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Egypt to Israel: Screw You

The Egyptians, deeply offended by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s recent accusation that they are doing a ‘terrible’ job of securing the border, have shown just what a good job they are doing – by allowing hundreds of palestinian pilgrims (including terrorists) through the border, contrary to understandings between Israel and Egypt.

That’ll prove Livni wrong.

Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims made their way back into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday after being stranded on Egyptian soil for almost a week following their return from the haj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according to Palestinian sources.

The circumstances that allowed for the return of the pilgrims remain unclear, although unidentified sources in Gaza said the pilgrims did not employ force and their passage was coordinated with Egyptian authorities.

Among those returning to Gaza are dozens of senior Hamas political and military figures. Israel claims that some of the returning Palestinians raised millions of dollars for Hamas while in Saudi Arabia and Israel also suspects that some underwent military training in Iran.

Unnamed State sources in Jerusalem said that opening border crossings without inspecting those going through them “constituted a violation of the understandings between Israel and Egypt.”

Despite the tensions between Israel and Egypt regarding recent Israeli accusations that its southern neighbor is not doing enough to combat smuggling from Sinai into Gaza, the two states were able to negotiate a solution for allowing the pilgrims back into the coastal strip.

Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement last Sunday to allow the Palestinians to return to their homes in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources claimed that the agreement stipulated that Egypt would check the Palestinians and report any suspected smuggling incidents to Israel.

Hamas had demanded that Egypt reopen the Rafah crossing to allow the pilgrims to pass directly into the coastal territory rather than force them to pass through Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom border crossing.

Israel and Egypt both insisted however that they all pass through Israeli security checks, fearing Hamas militants hiding among them would try to smuggle in large sums of cash into Gaza.

Hamas had rejected the Israeli-Egyptian understandings and insisted that the pilgrims should not be subjected to Israeli scrutiny.

At this hour, Hamas-controlled media outlets are celebrating what they describe as a “victory for the resistance.”

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh appeared on television on Wednesday and blessed the Palestinian returnees on their victory. He said that their return through Rafah is indicative of the “victory for our path, a respectable path, and for the resistance and for the adherence to Palestinian principles.”

Haniyeh also blessed the Egyptian government for their decision to allow the return of the pilgrims through Rafah.

“We thank Egypt for not bowing to the extortion that was used against it and the pressures – especially the pressure and the threats that Israel hurled at the Egyptian foreign minister – and enabling the return of the pilgrims,” Haniyeh said.

Many people here are willing to live with a cold peace. The problem is the frostbite is setting in.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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