DM Ehud Barak explains that smuggling to Gaza to continue until after
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA 21 January 2009
Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak explained in a live
interview broadcast this evening on Israel Television Channel One's Mabat
Evening News program that Egypt is going to implement a really good program
to stop the smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip but that it will take
time before the program is implemented.
Barak declined to rule out the possibility that Egypt's efforts would fail
and when asked by one of the news anchors if the IDF might take action in
the Philadelphi Corridor - for example renewed air raids - should the
smuggling continue - Barak replied that he would not discuss the IDF's
operational options in public.
Gaza smuggling routes operational again
BRENDA GAZZAR and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 21, 2009
Smuggling into Gaza from Egypt is underway again, only days after the end of
the IDF operation against Hamas.
AP Television News footage showed Palestinian smugglers Wednesday filling a
fuel truck with petrol that came through a cross-border tunnel from Egypt.
The footage also shows workers busy clearing blocked tunnels and bulldozers
carrying out other repairs.
One of the stated goals of the IDF offensive was to stop the smuggling
through the hundreds of tunnels under the border. The goods coming through
have included a steady flow of rockets and other weapons.
Israel has said eighty percent of the smuggling tunnels were destroyed in
bombing raids during the IDF's Operation Cast Lead.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian official said on Wednesday that Cairo planned to
discuss with Israel its desire to station additional border guards along the
Philadelphi Corridor in order to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza.
"We expect to start negotiations about the Egyptian request to put an
additional number of border guards (along the Philadelphi Corridor) soon,"
he said. "The idea is on the table and we will negotiate it."
The official would not say when it would be negotiated or how many
additional troops Egypt would request to add. Many other proposals,
including the moat proposal and building a barrier around the Egyptian part
of Rafah, are currently "being studied" by Egypt, he said.
Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau,
was scheduled to visit Egypt on Thursday.
Similarly, the London-based newspaper, Al-Hayat on Wednesday quoted Mohammed
Bassiouny, chairman of the Egyptian Parliament's foreign affairs and defense
committee, as saying that there were ongoing Israeli-Egyptian negotiations
concerning doubling the number of Egyptian forces at the border.
"We requested another 750 soldiers to monitor this region in addition to the
750 soldiers from the border guard unit that are already there after Egypt
signed the protocol with Israel," he said
In contrast to the Egyptian source who talked to the Jerusalem Post,
Bassiouny indicated that Egyptian-Israeli negotiations were already taking
place in an effort to achieve this goal, according to Al-Hayat.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said his country
would not allow foreign naval forces to operate in its territorial waters to
prevent weapons smuggling to Gaza.
Aboul Gheit spoke to reporters Wednesday as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
headed to Brussels where Israeli officials said she hoped to clinch a deal
committing the EU to contribute forces, ships and technology to stop arms
smuggling to Hamas.
EU officials said it was too early for that, saying providing humanitarian
relief and efforts to secure a lasting cease-fire were their priorities.