ISRAELI STRATEGISTS WEIGH GAZA OPTIONS:
The collapse of the border wall between Gaza and Egypt has opened up new strategic options for Israel while exposing it to grave new dangers.
Guy Bechor of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center argues that the border breach has created conditions for a total Israeli disengagement that would leave Egypt responsible for Gaza. "For the first time since 1967, Egypt has been sucked into Gaza, and worse, Gaza has been sucked into Egypt," he says. The fall of the wall, he says, has reopened the possibility of close working ties between Hamas and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which could threaten the Egyptian regime. He says, if left alone to deal with Gaza, Egypt will keep a much tighter rein on Hamas than Israel ever could.
Former Israeli national security adviser Giora Eiland also sees an excellent opportunity for Israel to rid itself of responsibility for Gaza. He proposes detaching Gaza from the customs union with Israel and the West Bank, and force Gaza to turn to Egypt for sustenance and trade. The huge Gazan shopping spree on Egyptian soil in the wake of the wall's collapse demonstrates that Egypt can provide a realistic economic alternative.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yom Tov Samia, a former head of Israel's Southern Command, says Israel must act quickly to reinforce its control along the border with Egypt "from the Mediterranean to Eilat." This includes reasserting Israeli control over the Philadelphi route dividing Gaza from Egypt. Otherwise, terrorists will be able to move out of Gaza into Sinai and threaten Israeli civilian populations across the weakly defended Israeli-Egyptian border - to say nothing of the free flow of heavy weapons from Egypt into Gaza. (JTA)