Sisi and Gaza: A new solution to Hamas’s terrorist enclave

As things stand, Egypt and Israel can help each other.

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas may have been decimated in the most recent Gaza war, but it’s rebuilding, and in the meantime is still dedicated to murdering Jews. In Gaza, according to an IDF artillery-surveillance officer, Hamas is “attempting to rehabilitate its military hierarchy.”
In Israel, following Operation Cast Lead the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) foiled a Hamas plot to attack Teddy Stadium. Periodic decimation of Hamas is useful, peace-wise – but the effects are transitory. And working with psychopathic energy, Hamas’s refractory period is brief. A new approach ought to be considered.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi hates the Muslim Brotherhood, whether it manifests as Islamist agitators in Cairo or as Hamas terrorists in Jerusalem. Under Sisi, Egypt has dealt decisively with its indigenous Brotherhood members. Two days ago, 78 teenagers at a Brotherhood rally were arrested and thrown in prison. Last spring 528 Muslim Brothers were sentenced to death.
According to the BBC, Sisi’s curb on Islamist protesters has sent 15,000 men to prison, and killed 1,400 more.
Egypt is unapologetic in its efforts to prevent Sharia- creep and terrorism. And since Egypt is free from the burden of Jewishness, no one in the “international community” much cares. Arab on Arab, Muslim on Muslim violence doesn’t sell newspapers the way IDF stories do.
Lately, Egypt has had IDF-level problems with Gaza terrorism. On Friday, two Egyptian army officers were killed by Islamic terrorists. Last month, 31 Egyptian soldiers were massacred in the northern Sinai; the attack was evidently connected to Egypt’s effort to halt weapon and terrorist traffic over the Gaza border. Egypt responded more aggressively than Israel would have dared: in order to build a 500 meter buffer zone, Egypt handed eviction notices to 10,000 residents of 800 homes on its side of the Gaza border. They were given 48 hours to vacate; if they left voluntarily, they would be compensated.
If they stayed, they would be forcibly removed.
The houses are being demolished; anti-tunnel moats will be dug. President Sisi is not a man of half measures.
Since Sisi took power, Egypt has tacitly supported Israel against Palestinian terrorism. During the latest Gaza war, the support was overt – Egypt’s most read paper, the government-owned Al-Ahram, went so far as to publish explicit praise of Israel’s prime minister: “Thank you Netanyahu, and may God give us more like you to destroy Hamas.”
As things stand, Egypt and Israel can help each other.
Israel wants peace in Gaza, and in Israel. Egypt wants peace in the Sinai, and in the rest of Egypt. Economically, technologically, Egypt could get a lot out of a tightened relation with Israel; Israel would relish any uptick in friendship with a powerful Arab Muslim nation.
Cooperation in Gaza might be a good place to start.
Israel is reported to have spent $2.3 billion on the last Gaza war. For that – or perhaps less than that, maybe a couple hundred million dollars deposited in Cairo’s treasury – Israel might be able to employ Egypt’s army as a third-party Gaza peace-keeping force next time Hamas goes to war with Israel. It would be to the benefit of Israel and Egypt, together and separately, and to everyone else in the world concerned with terrorism. Egypt could squash Hamas in a much more permanent way than the IDF can; Egypt would not be bound by Israel’s rules of engagement. No half measures. And without bloodstained, baby-murdering Jewish hands to discuss, the international outcry would, presumably, be muted.
Everyone (not affiliated with a terrorist organization) wins.
The author is a columnist for the National Review; he has written about international relations and military policy for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.