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Monday, January 22, 2024
Alert: Egyptian blanket denial that smuggling tunnels exist from Sinai into Gaza Strip undermines any program hinging on Egyptian security cooperation.

Alert: Egyptian blanket denial that smuggling tunnels exist from Sinai into
Gaza Strip undermines any program hinging on Egyptian security cooperation.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, 22 January 2023

With some Gazans spending a fortune today to leave the Gaza Strip via
smuggling tunnels to Egypt, we have the Egyptian Government claiming that
"any smuggling operation is impossible."

Take a look at this article published last October by NPR

The ragged border crossing that could become Gaza's lifeline
NPR OCTOBER 16, 20231:52 PM ET


...Rafah has long been a magnet for smugglers, who dug tunnels under the border, with some of entrance and exit points emerging inside homes on both sides of the border.

In quiet times, smugglers have brought in cigarettes and other goods to avoid taxes. In more recent years, Hamas used the tunnels to amass an arsenal of weapons, including some of those used in the surprise Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed more than 1,400 Israelis...

So any plan spending billions of dollars building a wall on the Egyptian
side is a farce from the start since we already see that the Egyptians are
not going to be serious about the operation of the barrier.

Egypt goes another step.

While Israel has generously allowed Egypt to flood the Sinai with troops and
military equipment in numbers magnitudes greater than the treaty sets since
Egypt faces a security emergency, we have Egypt threatening the Jewish state
if it temporarily increases its forces on the border in a move that would
not come close to the size of the Egyptian forces which are in excess of the

And this would indeed be a temporary extra Israeli force since once the
"civil works project" is carried out to block smuggling the force required
to maintain it would not be a violation of the agreement.

Any third party with eyes in their heads who wants a serious solution of the
situation in the Gaza Strip should be working now behind the scenes to make
sure that Mr. Rashwan's remarks reported below do not reflect what Egypt
actually will do should Israel decide to take the security of the Gaza Strip
Egypt: Israeli lies regarding alleged smuggling arms along borders lead to
serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli ties
BY Egypt Today staff
Mon, 22 Jan 2024 - 09:09 GMT

CAIRO - 22 January 2024: Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service
(SIS) announced that recent remarks by Israeli officials, and Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu about alleged smuggling operations of weapons,
explosives, ammunition, and their components, into the Gaza Strip from
Egyptian territory through alleged tunnels are lies and groundless.

"These Israeli claims and lies aim to create a "legitimacy" through which it
seeks to occupy the Philadelphia Axis (also known as the Salah al-Din Axis,
which refers to a strip of land along the border between Egypt and the Gaza
Strip) by violating the security agreements and protocols signed between
Israel and Egypt. So, we strongly confirm that any Israeli move in this
direction will lead to a serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,"
Rashwan said in a statement on Monday.

"This Egyptian red line joins the previous one, which Egypt has repeatedly
declared, which is the categorical rejection of forcibly or voluntarily
displacing our Palestinian brothers to Sinai. This line Israel will not be
allowed to pass," he added.

He said that the world knows about the tremendous efforts exerted by Egypt
over the past 10 years to get rid of tunnels along Egypt's borders with
Palestinian Gaza and Israel, to achieve security and stability in Sinai and
enhance security on the border between Egyptian Rafah and the Gaza Strip.
Egypt had suffered greatly from these tunnels during the fierce
confrontation with terrorist groups in Sinai after the overthrow of the
Brotherhood regime in June 2013 until 2020. These tunnels had represented a
means for smuggling fighters and weapons to Sinai to carry out terrorist
operations that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 martyrs from the army,
police, and civilians, and more than 13,000 injured.

Rashwan clarified Egypt had gotten rid of these tunnels by creating a
5-kilometer-long buffer zone from the Egyptian city of Rafah to the border
with Gaza, besides destroying more than 1,500 tunnels.

Rashwan added that Egypt has set up three barriers between Sinai and
Palestinian Rafah by expanding the zone to 14 kilometers and building a
concrete 6-meter-high wall above the ground and a 6-meter-deep barrier under
the ground. So, any smuggling operation is impossible, neither above ground
nor underground.

"Egypt has full sovereignty over its land, and has complete control over its
entire northeastern borders, whether with the Gaza Strip or with Israel," he

"Surprisingly, Israel speaks in this undocumented way about the allegations
of arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza, while it [Israel] is the country that
has military control over the Strip and possesses the most modern and
accurate means of reconnaissance and monitoring; and its forces,
settlements, and naval forces surround the small strip on three sides and
sends accusations to Egypt without any further evidence."

Israeli claims that smuggling operations are carried out through trucks
carrying aid and goods to the Gaza Strip from the Egyptian side of the Rafah
border crossing is an empty and ridiculous statement, because any truck
entering the Gaza Strip from this crossing must first pass through the
Israeli-run Kerem Abu Salem crossing, for inspection. Meanwhile, the
recipients of this aid are the Palestinian Red Crescent and United Nations
relief organizations such as UNRWA, which adds further evidence of the
Israeli lies, Rashwan said.

He said that the true aim of Israel's claims is to justify its continuation
of the collective punishment, killing, and starvation of more than 2 million
Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, which it [Israel] has practiced for 17

"The Israeli government must conduct serious investigations inside its army,
state agencies, and sectors of society, to search for those truly involved
in smuggling weapons to Gaza, from inside, for the purpose of profit," he

"Egypt was the initiative and agreed with Israel, in 2005 and 2021, to
increase the size of the border guard forces and capabilities in this border
region in order to secure the northeastern strategic border, out of respect
for the peace treaty with Israel, and so that the latter does not take any
unilateral step on its part," he added.

Many of the weapons currently inside the Gaza Strip are the result of
smuggling from Israel like M16 rifles and types of RPGs, as well as dual-use
materials in the military manufacturing of the military wings in the Gaza
Strip. It is sufficient to review what the Israeli media publishes about the
investigations taking place with members of the Israeli army, on the
background of the disappearance of weapons or their sale in the West Bank,
and from there they are sent to the Gaza Strip, he said.

"Speaking of the West Bank, can Israeli officials, who are spreading lies
against Egypt, explain the source of the large quantities of weapons,
ammunition and explosives spread in various areas of the West Bank,
according to their official statements, in light of the full control of the
occupation army over it, and that it does not have any kind of border with
Egypt? Then, they will only find the same people involved, from their army,
state agencies, and sectors of society, in smuggling weapons into the Gaza
Strip for the purpose of profit," he continued.

The information shows that most of the heavy weapons smuggling operations
into the Gaza Strip take place across the Mediterranean Sea, where its
shores with Gaza are completely controlled by the Israeli naval and air
forces. This indicates the same people involved in Israel, from its army,
its state agencies, and sectors of society, in weapons smuggling to Gaza for
the purpose of profit, Rashwan clarified.

It is worth noting Israeli army revealed, during the current war, especially
the video ones, about the seizure of many weapons, missiles, and explosives
manufacturing workshops inside the tunnels in Gaza, which means that there
is a high possibility that a large part of the armament of Hamas and the
Palestinian factions will be manufactured locally and not through smuggling,
said Rashwan.

"The Israeli allegations and lies are a continuation of Israel's policy of
escape due to its successive failures in achieving its declared goals for
the war on Gaza. It [Israel] is looking for someone responsible outside of
its area for these failures, as it also did the same thing recently by
accusing Egypt at the International Court of Justice of being the one
preventing and obstructing Humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, despite
its full knowledge that Egypt did not close the Rafah crossing on its part,
even for a single moment," he said.

"The arbitrary policies of successive Israeli governments have eliminated
any prospects for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue and
encouraged the separation of the Gaza Strip under the leadership of Hamas
from the Palestinian Authority, including turning a blind eye to the funding
it receives and the stifling siege of the Strip," he continued.

"These policies, for more than a decade and a half, are part of Netanyahu's
strategy to deepen the Palestinian division and ensure the separation of
Gaza from the West Bank to weaken the Palestinian Authority, and to have the
justification to refuse to enter into any negotiations on a two-state
solution," Rashwa added.

"Egypt's full support and solidarity with the Palestinian cause is certain
and realistic without the slightest doubt, and is in line with Egypt's
official statute of supporting the rights of the Palestinian people in their
independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of June
4, 1967," he said.

"Egypt's popular and official solidarity and support for the Palestinian
cause does not conflict with securing our borders and preventing smuggling
to and from it. Supporting the Palestinian cause has many political ways
that bear fruit until the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights,
which Egypt has done publicly since the beginning of the recent crisis, and
before that all the time in support of the brotherly Palestinian people," he

"No doubt that such [Israeli] false allegations do not serve the positive
Egyptian efforts made to resolve the crisis in Gaza, which has affected the
entire region and made it ripe for expanding the circle of conflict, the
matter that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned against repeatedly,"
Rashwan said.

"In conclusion, these false allegations do not serve the peace treaty that
Egypt respects. Egypt demands that the Israeli side to show its respect for
it also, and to stop making statements that would strain bilateral relations
in light of the current inflammatory conditions," he added.

"Egypt calls on everyone who talks about failure in protecting borders to
stop making these allegations because it [Egypt] has a strong army capable
of protecting its borders with all efficiency and discipline. Egypt will
continue its natural positive role to solve all the problems of the region,
and these false allegations will not succeed in dissuading Egypt from
carrying out its internal, regional and international responsibilities," he
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Arab-Israeli relations

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