Crossings

FrontPage has posted an informative column by David Hornik on the continuing Israeli struggle against terrorism: “Intifada ad infinitum.” Hornik concludes with a summary of events related to the Rafah crossing:

The Rafah crossing opened for the first time on Saturday under the new arrangement whereby the Palestinians are responsible for who enters, apart from farcical European “monitoring.” Some 1,500 Palestinians entered from Egyptian Sinai in the course of the day, compared to an average of 400 per day when Israel was in charge of the crossing.

Abbas, speaking at the inauguration ceremony, said the opening was “part of our progress on the way to an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” He added, “The achievement we’re celebrating today belongs first and foremost to the martyrs, wounded, prisoners, and all Palestinians who have sacrificed plenty in this struggle.” Also present was Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who called the opening a “victory” for the Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post’s indispensable Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Mohammed Dahlan, the PA’s minister of civil affairs, “said that Palestinians would be able to cross the border without Israeli intervention. The PA, for its part, won’t prevent any Palestinian from crossing the border, he stressed.”

Another story by Toameh published a day before the formal opening of the Rafah crossing gives a foretaste of what that means. It announces that “Rafik al-Hasanat, a senior member of Hamas who has been wanted by Israel for more than a decade, on Wednesday night returned to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.” Hasanat had fled to Egypt back in 1993 and since then was in hiding in Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Jordan. But his days on the run are now over, and “hundreds of Hamas activists chanting slogans in support of the Islamic movement welcomed [him] home.”

“Sources close to Hamas,” Toameh notes, “said many of its activists, including top leaders, have managed to return to the Gaza Strip since the Israeli pullout.” They include one of the organization’s founders, Sheikh Ahmed al-Milh, who came back to Gaza after 20 years in different Arab countries.

Under the terms of the same agreement, brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, by which Rafah opened for heavy traffic on Saturday, dozens of buses and trucks will soon be crossing Israel from Gaza to the West Bank daily. That their freight will include fresh terrorist cadres, and weapons for their use, is as certain as the sun setting in the West. No less certain is that the Israeli army will keep having plenty of work to do, Israeli civilians will keep being endangered, and that the unilateral cession of Gaza set it all in motion. International pressure will make sure this process continues eternally, if Israel bows to it.

The agreements brokered by Secretary Rice appear therefore already to have complicated and worsened Israel’s security situation. On a related note, Daniel Pipes looks at the prospects for Prime Minister Sharon’s new political party: “Ariel Sharon, escapist.” Pipes explores the question whether the party is “escapist” in the context of comparable parties in Israeli politics.

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