Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz, who chaired the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Sharon government, says that with the breakdown of the border between Gaza and Egypt, Israel's lone option remains the same: "We must take over Gaza."
Speaking with Arutz-7 today, Shteinitz said, "If Hamas worked to break open the border with Egypt, this means it is not in Israel's interest. For one thing, our pressure tactic against the Gazan terrorists - that is, the siege that we imposed - is no longer effective, as they can just go to Egypt to buy whatever they need. In addition, if until now, small weapons were able to be smuggled through via the tunnels, now they will be able to bring larger weapons in through the openings in the border wall."
Egypt Will Take Advantage
Shteinitz named yet another problematic aspect of the new situation: "You will see, very soon Egypt will say they want to reopen the [1979 Camp David] peace treaty agreement with Israel about how many forces they are allowed to have in the Sinai, and they'll say they need many more in order to monitor the crossing. Their goal is to have as many forces as they can close to Israel."
MK Shteinitz has been warning for years of Egypt's bellicose intentions towards Israel. He has accused Egypt of helping breed terrorists by enabling them to pass from Gaza to Lebanon and Iran for training and briefing, as well as receiving new terrorist technologies. "Egypt is not acting like Jordan, which liquidates the smuggling networks and prevents quantities of arms from reaching the border," he told Arutz-7 exactly a year ago - and again today (Thursday).
"In light of Egypt's President Mubarak's fight against extremist Islam in Egypt," Arutz-7 asked Shteinitz, "why would he be interested in keeping the border open with extremist Hamas?"
"Egypt has no intention of allowing the Arabs from Gaza into Egypt proper," Shteinitz said, "and not even past the El-Arish area [in north-west Sinai]. Egypt, just like Assad in Syria, likes to fight the Moslem extremists in his own country - but doesn't mind aiding them elsewhere."
Asked if the country is willing to pay the price in soldiers' deaths likely to be incurred by a full-fledged invasion, Shteinitz said, "The best way to convince the nation is by doing it and succeeding."
The Big Lie
"This is the big lie," Shteinitz said, "according to which Egypt is a moderate country that is allied with the West. They fight against extremist Islam only when it bothers them."
Asked what Israel should do in light of the new open Gazan-Egyptian border, he said, "As I have been saying for a while: Conquer Gaza. That's the only way to stop the Kassam rockets."
Asked if the country is willing to pay the price in soldiers' deaths that is likely to be incurred, Shteinitz said, "The best way to convince the nation is by doing it and succeeding."
Hamas Warns that Next Breakthrough Will be to Israel
Senior Hamas official Ahmed Yusuf, a top aide to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniye, took the opportunity of the breakdown of the Egypt-Gaza border to warn Israel that "next time, 500,000 people will break down the border with Israel at the Erez Crossing and stream through. They will be willing to give their lives to go back to [what they claim are - ed.] their original homes [from before 1948]. This is not imaginary."
Shteinitz said he does not believe this threat is likely to materialize. "They simply won't do it," he said.
Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim, on the other hand, sounded more cautious. "It could happen," he told Voice of Israel Radio. "We must learn from what has just happened here. I don't make light of what we saw there [in Rafah], and we must take this seriously."
Boim does not agree with Shteinitz about Egypt: "It could be that as a result of the new developments, Egypt may see the dangers and start cooperating with us more fully regarding the Philadephi crossing." He said that Israel should increase its control of the Philadelphi Crossing, with Egyptian consent."