New York — Outgoing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) OC, Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, has strongly criticized Egypt for failing to honor the Gaza agreement with Israel to seal the Egypt-Gaza border as part of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. Egyptian troops have allowed scores of terrorists and large amounts of weapons to enter Gaza.
In an interview with Jerusalem Post (October 21), Harel said, “They [Egypt] are not preventing the smuggling on the border or within Egypt proper. A lot of ammunition and weapons are coming from Sinai. They are being stored in the Sinai and transferred to the Palestinian side … If [ Egypt] decided to end the smuggling of so many terror weapons — I am talking of thousands of everything — then in my opinion there wouldn’t be any smuggling. The way it looks now is very bad … The problem is not one of a border, but a region. These weapons are coming from some place. They are traveling across the Sinai. They are coming from Egyptian citizens, and these Egyptians are selling them to the Palestinians. We expect them to impose their laws on these Egyptian citizens.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA strongly condemns Egypt’s blatant and continuing failure to live up to the agreements it made with Israel as part of the Gaza withdrawal to seal the border with Gaza following Israel’s withdrawal last month. There is simply no excuse for Egypt refusing to use the forces available and approved for security purposes to intercept terrorists and smugglers bringing in weaponry into Gaza or refusing to cooperate closely with their Israeli counterparts.
“Since Israel withdrew, according to Western intelligence sources, Palestinian terrorists have smuggled in over 100 long-range Kassem rockets with a range of 20 kilometers, which are capable of hitting the Israeli city of Ashkelon, with its civilian port, naval base and power stations.
“It is mystifying that Prime Minister Sharon believed that Egypt would comply with the agreement reached over the Gaza border, given the Israeli experience of Egyptian conduct, including on issues of security, over quarter of a century since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
“Now that several weeks have been given to seal the Egypt-Gaza border and Egypt is refusing to do this, the Bush Administration should immediately pressure the Mubarak government to live up to its signed obligation to secure the border with Gaza and cooperate fully with Israel in preventing terrorists which, as we have pointed out before, include elements of Al Qaeda, from establishing themselves in Gaza in preparation for a new wave of terrorism against Israel. This is vital matter in the war against Islamist terrorism. Egypt simply does not merit American support and billion of dollars in annual U.S. aid if it refuses to behave like an ally and work towards the ending of terrorism in its region and against U.S. allies.”