EASTER IN SINAI
Some years ago, I flew into the Sinai area to visit St. Catherine’s Monastery and climb Mount Sinai, the traditional sight where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The area remains so intensely arrid that you feel like your nose will shrivel up into the back of your head. Following a fascinating tour of the 1,400 year oldest existing Greek Orthodox monastery, I climbed Sinai and then departed for Eilat on the sea-coast. An afternoon swim with tropical fish leaves a refreshing impression. I couldn’t image hostilities breaking out in this fascinating site. During the first Thursday in April, the normally tranquil Red Sea vacation spot was hit by missiles fired from Egypt’s Sinai desert area. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned the Sinai could be in danger of becoming a “terror zone.” Following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, there has been a growing lawlessness in that region. Weak policies and difficult terrain could turn the peninsula into the latest front for Islamic militant activity, including al-Qaida. The issue has raised new concern across Israel. Although unauthorized to speak to the press, Egyptian security forces and military aircraft reported searching the southeastern Sinai for militants. A year ago, gunmen from the Sinai crawled into Israel and ambushed vehicles on a desert highway. The brazen attack left eight Israelis dead. Palestinian militants from Gaza probably traveled westward into the Sinai and then returned to Gaza. The recent upheavals in Egypt resulting from a power vacuum have opened up new options and possibilities for attacks against Israel in what had previously been a quiet and secure front. Current events in Egypt may yet have a bearing on this terrorist problem. In an attempt to keep militants an illegal migrants out, Israel is currently stepping up surveillance on the Egyptian border. A new electronic barrier along the 150 mile frontier will be completed by the end of the year. While Arabs screamed when a similar fence was created across the northern portion of Israel and cut through the highway close to Bethlehem, the wall has produced a highly significant decrease in suicide bombings inside Israel. Arabs may not like the fences, but they do protect citizens. Netanyahu recognized a barrier doesn’t stop rockets, but it’s a start in the right direction. The Iron Dome, a short-range rocket interceptor, has been used to stop attacks coming out of Gaza. A similar device could be positioned near Egypt if necessary. In 1979, Egypt signed the first Arabic peace treaty with Israel. Since then, Islamic parties have arisen with their own particular hatreds of Israelis. Many of these groups now pose a threat to the ’79 accords. The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest party in Egypt’s parliament, has indicated it would consider amending the treaty to allow more Egyptian troops along the border. The bottom line is that the Easter Bunny wasn’t hopping merrily down the trail in Israel this year. Israel must continue to maintain vigilance and firing a rocket into Eila isn’t a good sign for the future.
Have you noticed this incident at Eliat being reported elsewhere as an attack on Israel? If
not, does it seem to fit the way that the international press often doesn’t tell the full story
when it benefits Israel? What can Israel do to stop these assaults?