Peres Galant 224.88.
(photo credit: IDF)
Sinai Beduin are helping armed terrorists from Gaza, taking them in and allowing them to integrate into their midst, according to Edom Formation Commander Brig.-Gen. Yoel Strick.
Strick was among senior army officers who briefed President Shimon Peres on Thursday during a tour of the Israeli-Egyptian border as part of a two-day visit to Eilat.
Peres, a former defense minister and former director-general of the Defense Ministry, was told that military operations along the border had escalated in recent months as a precaution against would-be terrorists.
Peres was told that since the disengagement from Gaza there had been an intenstified effort on the part of Gaza terror cells to penetrate Israel and cause serious damage.
A suicide bombing shook Eilat, rarely the target of such attacks, in January.
Peres, who was primarily in the South to join in the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Kibbutz Yotvata, told young soldiers he met with that the residents of Eilat and the South in general owe them a deep debt of gratitude because the soldiers have been so successful in preventing acts of terror.
Without their presence, Eilat would not be as protected as it is today, Peres said.
The soldiers asked Peres if there was any progress in obtaining the release of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Peres said that the state was making every possible effort to bring the soldiers home, and reiterated that all negotiations in this regard must remain secret. "Our first obligation is to keep them alive and not to endanger them in any way," said Peres. Israel has paid heavily in the past for the return of prisoners, and is prepared to do so again, he said.
"We must not forget that every soldier is a messenger of the nation, and that the administration is responsible for his well-being," said Peres. In this instance, he noted, Israel was not dealing with a government or an army, but with a cruel and murderous terrorist organization.