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Monday, May 31, 2004
Mofaz: Egypt smuggled many RPG launchers into Gaza Strip [But wants to rely on Egypt]

Mofaz: Egypt smuggled many RPG launchers into Gaza Strip [But wants to rely
on Egypt]
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service 31 May 2004
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/433639.html

[IMRA: Yes. Ex-IDF COS Shaul Mofaz told the committee that Egypt is part of
the terror problem, but politician Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the
same committee that Israel should hand over responsibility for controlling
the flow of weapons from Egypt to Gaza via the Philadelphi Corridor to Egypt
in return for some new piece of paper that describes a new understanding
between Israel and Egypt that would also ostensibly permit Egypt to deploy
more forces on the border - this when the Egypt Israel treaty already
obligates Egypt to prevent smuggling and allows Egypt to deploy an unlimited
number of police armed with assault rifles in the border area.

Mofaz's desire to rely on Egypt in defiance of the reality of Egypt's
behaviour to date along with news of plans to inject Egyptian military
advisors/human shields into Gaza and Sharon's interest in finding ways to
compensate the Palestinians for "only" destroying three Israeli communities
in the first round (by quickly opening Palestinian ports so that the Gaza
Strip can enjoy a key element of sovereignty - freedom of movement?) points
to the significance of the provision in Prime Minister Sharon's plan that a
ministerial committee of Sharon-Olmert-Mofaz-Ezra (Sharon's 4 certain votes)
+ Lapid (99% Sharon) + Shalom-Netanyahu should be able to decide on
withdrawal from the Philadelphi Corridor, Israeli agreement to the
introduction of foreign armed forces into Gaza and the opening of
Palestinian airports and seaports without requiring another cabinet vote.]

Egypt has smuggled a large number of rocket-propelled grenade (RPG)
launchers manufactured by the Egyptian military industries into the Gaza
Strip, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday at a Knesset Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee meeting.

Mofaz said that most of the weapons smuggled through underground tunnels
into the Gaza Strip were manufactured in Iran, and included hundreds of
Kalashnikov rifles, mortars and thousands of bullets. He added that Katyusha
rockets were also supposed to be smuggled into the Strip, but that they were
still in the Sinai peninsula.

Committee chairman MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said Monday that he was worried
by Egypt's involvement in weapons smuggling, saying that Egypt hasn't done
anything to eliminate weapons smuggling and sometimes even assists them.
"The Egyptians are letting us and the Palestinians drink each others'
blood," Steinitz said.

Sarid, Eldad: Mofaz's appearance before panel is 'insult to intelligence

Both left-wing MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz-Yahad) and right-wing Aryeh Eldad
(National Union) said Monday that Mofaz's appearances before the Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were an insult to intelligence.

The two legislators expressed concern at the quality of the defense
minister's presentations to the committee. "In today's meeting too Mofaz
failed, as usual, to answer questions and remarks made by panel members,"
the MKs said.

Sarid and Eldad added that the minister arrived at the meeting with a
prepared speech, and would not deviate from it or address new issues the MKs
were interested in discussing.

Several members of the panel, among them panel chairman MK Yuval Steinitz
(Likud) said that the attack by IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Arab MKs
who condemned the behavior of IDF soldiers was out of line, but that Mofaz
refused to make any response to the issue.

Mofaz told the committee on Monday that Israel wants full disengagement from
the Gaza Strip, including the Philadelphi Route, but that a lot depended on
Egypt. He said that Israeli and Egyptian teams will be formed to implement
the plan, but that a lot depended on the goodwill between the two countries.

The defense minister also told the panel that the construction of many
sections of the security fence was slowed down because of the numerous High
Court petitions against its construction.

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