Dichter: Israel must act if Egypt fails

Tells 'Post' that Israel might have to take charge of the Philadephi Corridor.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Sunday he has been speaking with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about what he calls the "military revolution" in Gaza, telling the prime minister that if Egypt cannot assert its authority over the Philadelphi Corridor between the Strip and Sinai, Israel will have to take charge. We have to take a decision that the ability to conduct warfare in Gaza has to be "'dried out,' by Israel at the Karni crossing and by Egypt at the Philadelphi Corridor," Dichter told The Jerusalem Post in an interview that will be published in full later this week. Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), spent years in the organization's Gaza-based field units, eventually commanding its Southern District, including the Gaza Strip. "We failed when we didn't convince the Egyptians to block the Philadelphi Corridor, but even Egypt understands now that not blocking the flow of smuggling helped Hamas build what they call a popular army, as opposed to various elite units," he said. Dichter said Israel had several options should the Egyptians prove incapable of stopping the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. These solutions, he said, were not all dependant on controlling the Philadelphi Corridor. Dichter also said Israel should not take actions that would "aggravate any humanitarian crisis" in the Strip. "The 1.2 million people in Gaza can go on with their normal lives in terms of food and basic needs," he said - a reference to statements by Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu, who have advocated ending the provision of Israeli-generated electricity and other supplies to the Gaza Strip.