Operation Cast Lead 311.
(photo credit: Bloomberg News)
Israel is not currently interested in launching an Operation Cast Lead-like
offensive in the Gaza Strip and will positively consider requests by Egypt to
permit the deployment of additional military forces in Sinai Peninsula, head of
the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad
told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
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Gilad, Israel’s point man when it
comes to defense ties with Egypt, denied reports that a crisis was brewing
between Jerusalem and Cairo. He said that reports regarding an Egyptian decision
to recall its ambassador to Israel were not true and that ties between the
countries were still strong.
“There is no crisis and the ties are
strong,” Gilad told the Post. “All the rumors about the recalling of ambassadors
are not true. The Israeli ambassador is in Cairo and the Egyptian ambassador is
in Tel Aviv.”
He said that Israel was currently not interested in a
large-scale operation in Gaza.
“We do not have a desire right now to
enter into something like an Operation Cast Lead II, which would have extensive
consequences,” Gilad said. “At the same time though, we are extremely determined
to protect Israel and its citizens and that is what we are doing.”
said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s expression of regret for the deaths of a
number of Egyptian policemen by the IDF as it returned fire at terrorists in
Sinai on Thursday, was natural considering Israel’s close relationship with
“We expressed regret because if an ally of ours claims that we
killed policemen then we know how to express regret,” Gilad said. “We are now
conducting a joint investigation together with the Egyptians regarding what
happened, but one thing is already clear – the IDF does not intentionally open
fire at Egyptian security officers.”
According to reports in the Arab
press, Gilad has visited Cairo a number of times in recent months and was
involved in talks with the military there ahead of “Operation Eagle” which Egypt
launched last week in an effort to restore order to Sinai. The operation
included the insertion of 1,000 soldiers and hundreds of armored personnel
carriers to the peninsula.
Gilad refused to confirm that he had been to
Egypt but said that the operation was unprecedented and would ultimately be
judged by its outcome. He said that Israel was seeking a stronger effort by the
Egyptians to stop the flow of Iranian arms through Sinai into the Gaza Strip,
which he called “Hamastan.”
“The Egyptians are making an unprecedented
effort to deal with the problems they face in the Sinai and they are doing this
out of their own interest since there are elements there that are challenging
the regime’s authority,” he said. “The question will ultimately depend on the
extent of the operation, its depth and what the results will be.”
if Israel would be willing to allow the deployment of additional military forces
into Sinai if asked by the Egyptians, Gilad said it would depend on the request
and the circumstances. He said that Israel’s peace with Egypt was of supreme
strategic value for Israel as well as for the future stability of the entire
Under the Camp David Accords, Sinai is demilitarized and any
deployment needs to be approved by Israel.
“It is important to safeguard
the peace treaty, but every request will be reviewed based on the assessments at
the time and the situation on the ground while ensuring that the peace treaty is
retained,” Gilad said.
Regarding the attacks near Eilat on Thursday and
the over 100 rockets that have been fired into Israel since, Gilad said Israel
held Hamas responsible for the attacks. He said that while Iran was not playing
an active role in the recent conflict its involvement was obvious.
is not involved on a daily basis in the attacks but the Iranians are the ones
who supply the weaponry, the technology and the know-how,” he said. “They are
giving Hamas and other organizations the ability to hit Tel Aviv from the South
like they have given Hezbollah the ability in the North.”