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And to the Egyptian example Harel adds another, confirming earlier reports that
the civil war in Libya opened new opportunities for weapons after the Libyan army lost control of vast weapons stores in the east of the country. Local arms dealers made contact with Gaza smugglers, and new weapons began to flow by a much shorter and easier route than the ones originating in Iran.
The Israeli government, too, has chimed in, with the home front minister warning that “metropolitan Tel Aviv…will be bombed by missiles in the next Gaza war” and adding: “There is no country in the world that is threatened like the State of Israel. The only country that approximates it is South Korea.”
Israel, too, has been building up its capacities and is, of course, far from helpless before these threats. But the rapid demise of what’s left of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty is a story that shouldn’t sink under the radar, uncongenial as it may be to many.
That treaty, signed in 1979, entailed a total Israeli evacuation of armed forces and civilians from Sinai, which was supposed to become a vast buffer zone and guarantor of peace between the two countries. Sinai has, in fact, been a weapons-smuggling route to Gaza since the 1990s, when, as part of another “peace” venture dubbed Oslo, Israel partially transferred security control of the Strip to Yasser Arafat’s forces.
The situation only worsened—dramatically—when Israel totally withdrew from Gaza as well in 2005. Note that, if Israel had remained in Sinai, then relaxing control of the million-plus hostile Arabs in Gaza—something most Israelis wanted in principle—might have been doable without incurring unbearable security costs. But leaving Gaza after Sinai, on which it borders, was totally out of Israel’s hands—as “disengagement” opponents warned at the time—was a recipe for strategic disaster.
At least, toward the end of its existence, the Mubarak regime in Egypt tried to do more to stop the smuggling. Now, with that regime gone, the Islamists ascendant, and Sinai in anarchy, the situation is as described above.
Going back, though, to the 1979 treaty, it was widely touted as showing that Israel could make real, stable peace with its neighbors. Yet, with or without Israel’s blunders, it now emerges clearly that the treaty’s unraveling was a matter of time and a function of intra-Arab dynamics. It will be the same with any other contrived “peace” Israel makes, or is pushed into making, with any other of its neighbors.
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