Terror On Israel's Southern Border
The recent terrorist attack on Israel’s resort town of Eilat killed eight people and wounded more than two dozen others. The terrorists infiltrated Israel from the Egyptian-ruled Sinai. They successfully carried out their well-planned attack, despite the fact that the IDF (Israel’s Defense Forces) had been warned for some time that the interim Egyptian government was no longer involved in enforcing the law in the Sinai.
The terrorists hit several buses, private cars, and an IDF border patrol in Israel’s well-known southern resort town. They used automatic rifles, missiles, roadside bombs, and other sophisticated weapons. Before and after the attack, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza launched more rockets against nearby Israeli southern towns.
The terrorists who attacked Eilat were well-trained and most likely had accurate intelligence information on Israeli defense operations, including important details about Israel’s homefront. The IDF was not prepared for the multi-level highly visible attack on such a popular destination for tourists who regularly visit the sunshine city from destinations around the world. Certainly, tourism to Israel will be affected by this recent incident.
Since the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and even during his rule in Egypt, the Bedouins living in the Sinai were known to be aiding terrorists. The tribes have cooperated with radical Islamic forces, helping them to smuggle well-trained operatives and sophisticated weapons along routes from Egypt to Gaza. Some of these forces are now reportedly operating freely in the Sinai, including the Moslem Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda cells, and Hamas terrorists.
When Egypt’s ruling military party, following Mubarak’s departure, opened the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza in June 2011, it allowed highly trained terrorists and advanced weapons to flow freely. This has led to an increased weapons arsenal for Hamas. The terror group now has at least 10,000 rockets it wants to use against Israel, including several long-range Iranian missiles that can hit Tel Aviv. Hamas has smuggled into Gaza at least three times as many explosives this year as they were able to smuggle in last year.
The Egyptian government has also stopped building a wall under the Philadelphia Corridor, which is now encouraging more weapons to be smuggled through underground tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. In addition, it appears that Hamas is trying to extend its rule in the Sinai, in opposition to the current Egyptian military government.
It is obvious that Egyptian’s current interim government has lost its grip on the Sinai, as the gas pipeline that provides gas to Israel and Jordan has been bombed, repeatedly, by local jihadists. Furthermore, it is possible that Thursday’s attack included soldiers associated with the Egyptian army patrolling the Sinai, which further complicates the sensitive and highly volatile relationship between Israel and Egypt.
While the current Egyptian interim government develops closer ties with the Moslem Brotherhood and Iran, the IDF must be prepared to protect Israel’s porous border with Egypt. This means deploying many of Israel’s best troops to the south. Israel is currently building a fence along the border, but plans are that it will not be completed for several years. Therefore, the border will continue to be vulnerable to terror attacks emanating from the Sinai.
Though the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is supposed to protect the relationship between the two countries, that treaty is now in jeopardy as radical Islamic forces are poised to take over the Egyptian government in the near future. These are worrying signs for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government, as the balance of power in the southern region is being altered. In addition, Palestinian terror groups are attempting to store missles and launchers throughout the region. The IDF will have to prepare to operate along the Egyptian border and in the Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks against Eilat, Beersheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government cannot afford to wait any longer to prepare its citizens for war on its southern front. Whatever it takes to expand Israel’s defense budget in order to meet IDF requirements for a greater presence in the south, Israeli citizens must cooperate.
The domestic problems that have divided Israelis this summer due to rising housing costs, insufficient medical services and a troubled education system, are worthy of consideration. But, these problems cannot compare to the rise in enemy forces on Israel’s southern border who want to destroy the Jewish State, militarily.
Once more, the Jewish nation is focused on protecting the home-front from outside hostilities. Citizens will have to find a way to live together to combat these forces as a national priority. This will need to happen before Israel can sufficiently solve its economic problems that are hindering progress within the state.
“In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border.” Isaiah 19:19
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.
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