STORY AS REPORTED: Egypt is proceeding on construction of a Sinai-Gaza fence that extends downward to block smugglers’ tunnels. Egyptian officials explain that they found that the tunnels were used not only for commercial goods and weaponry, but also to insinuate terrorists onto Egyptian territory, where they endanger Egypt. Hence they say they are tightening the border for their own national security. They anticipate that the fence would block 60% of the tunnel traffic.
“Egypt long has helped to enforce the siege by keeping official border crossings with Gaza mostly closed, but turned a blind eye to tunnel trade.” Israel praises this new Egyptian effort as a serious help in blocking terrorist movement. Hamas, however, complains that Egypt would be cutting off the people’s food supply. A sign in the office of Hamas’ supervisor of tunnels bans importing drugs, alcohol, weapons, people and stolen cars. “Outside, white plastic tents, each shading a separate tunnel, stretch for as far as the eye can see along the nine-mile border.”
The tunnels multiplied greatly after the Gaza combat. “That war began when Hamas resumed launching rockets at Israel in late 2008, after a six-month cease-fire, because Hamas felt Israel hadn’t lived up to its end of the bargain by relaxing the siege (Curtis Levinson, Wall St. J., 2/21, A14).
INTERPRETATION AND GAPS: Israel really has not had any individual wars. It has had to fight terrorism since before independence and armies since independence. Hamas has had ceasefires on and off, on when it needed time to rearm or for political reasons, off when it felt ready to fight again. That is an ancient tactic of jihad. Hamas violated its truces or, conveniently, lent its rockets to non-Hamas terrorists to fire upon Israel, making the ceasefires one-sided. Hamas claims responsibility for ruling Gaza except when other terrorist organizations use Hamas or their own weapons to attack Israel.
In some instances, Hamas declared a truce unilaterally or unilaterally added a condition, and then broke the truces, claiming that Israel broke the agreement. But there was no direct agreement. In jihad, it’s always the infidels’ fault?
Hamas exploits tunnels to promote terrorism on both sides of them, and then decries efforts to stop the tunnels as cutting off food. The Arab side of jihad cynically likes to play victim, not only about the blockade.
The Wall St. J. does not explain why the fence is expected to be only 60% effective. My earlier articles described the new fence as too shallow for some of the tunnels. My source, IMRA, has noted that the government of Israel praises anything the Arabs do that could be constructive but may be deceptive. I have noticed that when Israel does speak frankly with Egyptian officials, the Egyptians lose their tempers.
If each tunnel along just nine miles is identified by a white tent, why don’t Egyptian police blow up the tunnels below the tents? That would be a genuine effort.
(For earlier report on Gaza tunnels,