President Obama pushed Israel into accepting a ceasefire arrangement with Hamas, which was engineered by Hamas's Muslim Brotherhood patron, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Israel is supposed to negotiate, through Egyptian intermediaries, an easing of border restrictions between Gaza and Israel. This would be the same Egyptian government that had sent its prime minister to Gaza to express solidarity with Hamas during the fighting. Hamas, on the other hand, is not required to give up its remaining stockpile of Iranian-supplied weapons, nor to commit to cease all further imports of Iranian missiles or missile parts. In short, the ceasefire is a sham. Only a Gaza Strip without re-armed terrorists can truly stop the fire in the long run.
Obama reportedly praised Morsi for his pragmatism in putting ideology aside in order to get the ceasefire deal done. Morsi wasted no time in exploiting the glow of praise radiating so brightly from Obama and the international community for his role in bringing about the ceasefire. He issued an edict the next day exempting all his decisions from judicial review and giving himself the power to do pretty much anything he deemed necessary to keep the "revolution" alive.
Morsi was able to get Hamas to agree to a ceasefire because he knows that Hamas will simply follow the path of Hezbollah, which has used its own ceasefire with Israel in Lebanon to re-arm itself to the teeth with sophisticated weapons it obtains from Iran and Syria. Morsi no doubt followed the time-honored Islamist tradition of lying in the service of Islam, known as taqiyya, regarding any representations he may have made on Hamas's behalf to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the negotiations.
How was Obama able to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to the ceasefire before the military operation had achieved all of its objectives? According to Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Netanyahu might well have succumbed to threats by the Obama administration that it would cut off or delay shipments of vital parts for F-16s and other military assets unless Israel acceded.
There is also an unconfirmed report by DEBKAfile that Obama secured Netanyahu's agreement to the ceasefire after he "personally pledged to start deploying US troops in Egyptian Sinai" within a week. This follows another DEBKAfile report of a U.S. project to construct electronic security fences along the Suez Canal and northern Sinai. The kicker, however, is that Morsi has to consent to the fences and the entry of U.S. forces into Sinai to take action against Iranian arms smuggling networks.
Meanwhile, Hamas is wasting no time. The rocket firings may have ceased for the time being, but not the re-arming. Israeli spy satellites have reportedly detected rockets and other weapons being loaded into a cargo vessel at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, which is the location of the main base of the Iranian Navy. Israeli intelligence officials believe that the vessel will be following a well-established sea route from Bandar Abbas to the Port of Sudan, from which arms are then smuggled through Sudan and Egypt via the Sinai Peninsula to Gaza.
Iran uses Sudan regularly as part of its terrorist arming campaign, leveraging a defense pact the two countries signed in 2008.
An arms factory in Sudan, reportedly used by Iran to manufacture arms for transit to Hamas, exploded last month as a result of what may have been an Israeli air strike. But the Iranian-Sudanese terrorist arms venture continues on. Libya has become another source of weapons smuggled to Gaza. An Iranian Navy ship, carrying weapons, was allowed by Egyptian authorities to pass through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean last August - in other words, by the same government that is supposed to help maintain the ceasefire between Iran's client Hamas and Israel.
Israel should not ease any current land and sea restrictions without ironclad, enforceable measures to stop all terrorist re-arming in its tracks. Enforceable does not mean by UN peacekeeping troops. They have proved to be worthless in stopping the smuggling of arms across the Syrian border to Hezbollah, as was called for in Security Council Resolution 1701.
However, assuming that the DEBKAfile report is true and Morsi somehow consents to a limited U.S. troop presence in the Sinai to snuff out the smuggling operations - a questionable assumption - that is only a start. Moreover, the United States should not have to act alone. If European countries and Turkey, as well as the United States - all members of NATO - want Israel to ease the land and sea restrictions, then NATO needs to step up. This means committing the resources required to inspect all cargo before it enters Gaza from whatever location, and to interdict all arms and weapons components wherever they are found, before they reach Hamas. If this includes intercepting Iranian ships, which are believed to be carrying arms shipments, before they reach Sudan and other transit points, so be it. NATO would be simply enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1747, which prohibits Iran from supplying, selling, or transferring directly or indirectly "any arms or related material."
President Obama also needs to significantly increase the U.S. government's financial support for Israel's anti-missile defense systems, including Iron Dome (for short-range rockets), David's Sling (for medium- to long-range rockets) and Arrow (for long-range conventional ballistic missiles and high-altitude nuclear warheads). These defense systems are based on Israeli-developed technology, which has proven to be far superior to U.S. technology in this area. Our financial investment in its success will not only help our ally Israel defend itself, but will provide us with highly effective systems for our own use against the terrorists who mean to do us harm.
The United States has budgeted approximately $2 billion for these systems' development, manufacture and deployment in Israel since 2006. The Obama administration needs to up the ante and provide Israel with the money needed to allow the rapid manufacture and deployment of enough of these systems to protect every civilian population center in Israel against short, medium and long-range missile attack from any direction.
In the final analysis, these tactical measures are necessary but not sufficient to deal with the source of the threat not only to Israel, but to all Western democracies. The Islamist regime in Iran will have to be confronted, sooner rather than later. As Winston Churchill once said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last."
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