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Israel Setting Rules for Truce: Foreign Monitors at Border

Israel's steamroller against Hamas has allowed it to set rules for a new truce: foreign monitors at Egyptian border, Americans at Gaza tunnels.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/5/2009, 10:52 AM

Flash 90

Israel's steamroller success in its Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign against Hamas has allowed it to begin setting out conditions for a new truce, including foreign supervision at the Egyptian border.

 

The Saudi Gazette published a report from Reuters that "Israel has conditioned any halt to its Gaza Strip offensive on international backing for new fortifications and monitoring on the Egyptian border to prevent Hamas from rebuilding tunnels and rearming."

 

The government is determined to prevent a repeat of the failed Gaza Disengagement agreement and the ceasefire that officially ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Hamas terrorists amassed a huge supply of weapons and explosives after allowing Egypt to ostensibly supervise the border.

 

A toothless United Nations resolution at the end of the Second Lebanon War has allowed Hizbullah to re-arm and stockpile three times as many missiles than it possessed before the war.

 

One of the main targets of Israeli Air Force bombings has been the smuggling tunnels along the nine mile Philadelphi smuggling route that straddles the border between Gaza and Egypt.

 

"We want to prevent Hamas from being re-armed like Hizbullah was after the Lebanon war," Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official. Government experts estimate that Hamas could rebuild its smuggler tunnel system within six months if no supervisory mechanism is in place.
We want to prevent Hamas from being rearmed like Hezbollah was after the Lebanon war.

 

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, along with several pro-Israel United States Congress members, have complained that Egypt has turned a blind eye to Hamas smuggling since former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon allowed Cairo to take responsibility for protecting Israel from a well-armed Hamas army.

 

Egypt occasionally has announced that it destroyed several tunnels in an attempt to convince the international community that it is fighting terrorism, but hundreds of tunnels remained untouched until the Operation Cast Lead campaign.

 

Israel is seeking an international presence with heavily-armed supervisors. One Israeli official proposed to the U.S. that its Army Corps take over the job of supervising the tunnels. The response was said to be "positive."

 

One proposal, which Egypt might oppose, is to build an underground wall on the Egyptian side of the nine mile smuggling corridor.