'Only Egyptian buffer zone will stop smuggling'

Eiland says int'l force, special equipment or special technicians are not required and not effective.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
January 15, 2009 21:04
1 minute read.
eiland 298 aj

eiland 248.88 . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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The only long-term solution to Palestinian weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip is the establishment of an Egyptian security zone on its side of the border, according to former National Security Council director Giora Eiland. The security zone could be built in the desert area on the Egyptian side of Rafah without uprooting a single local resident, Eiland said Wednesday, during a briefing for the foreign press at Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim. "All this talk of an international force, special equipment or special technicians is completely hopeless, since it is not required and not effective," Eiland said. He added that Israel needed to use its leverage - in the form of the opening of its own border crossing with Gaza - to encourage the Egyptians to create such a buffer zone. The passages between Israel and Gaza can be used as a "poker game" between Israel and Egypt, he said. The more Egypt closes its border with Gaza, the more Israel could open its crossing into Gaza. "Today the Egyptians are more open to other ideas than in the past," Eiland said. He noted that full Israeli control of the Rafah border area was not feasible in the long-term. Hundreds of weapons-smuggling tunnels have been destroyed so far during Operation Cast Lead, but hundreds of others are thought to still exist. During the briefing, Eiland said that Israel's 20-day military offensive against Hamas had boosted Israeli deterrence against the Islamic regime in Gaza as never before. He opined that the massive rebuilding of Gaza, domestic political problems Hamas faces as a result of the operation, and third-country involvement in any cease-fire will necessarily push off a new round of Hamas violence for "several years."

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