Analysis: Israel’s options in Sinai are limited (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ 04/05/12)
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The rocket fire from the Sinai late Wednesday night did not come as a
surprise for the Israeli defense establishment.
For months now, the IDF has been tracking Hamas and Islamic Jihad
terrorist activity in the Sinai and there have been reports that the
organizations have established rocket production lines in Egyptian
territory and even moved some of their weapons caches there.
The groups’ rationale has been simple – in Gaza the weapons are
targets for Israeli airstrikes. In Egypt, though, Israel cannot bomb
“This is exactly the dilemma we are currently facing,” a senior
defense official said. “If we spot a rocket squad in the Sinai do we
attack or not? If we attack, we are accused of violating Egyptian
sovereignty and if we don’t attack then a rocket lands in Israel.”
Israeli assessments are that either a Palestinian terrorist group was
behind the rocket fire or even possibly local Egyptian Bedouin who
operate as “freelancers” for Gaza-based terrorist organizations.
Israel predicts that as the fence along the border is completed, the
threat of rocket fire will increase.
A similar process took place in the Gaza Strip, around which the IDF
has erected one of the most sophisticated security barriers in the
world making it virtually impossible for terrorists to cross directly
from Gaza into Israel. As a result, they instead focus on rocket fire.
“Now, with the Egyptian border still open, there is still a
possibility for terror infiltrations,” a senior IDF officer explained
recently. “But once the fence is completed and infiltrations become
too difficult, these groups will likely invest in rocket fire
In the meantime, the IDF is considering connected the city of Eilat
to the early-warning air siren system that operates relatively
effectively throughout southern Israel. Another possibility would be
to deploy an Iron Dome battery near Eilat, although still unlikely.
In the meantime, Israel will focus its response against terrorist
groups in the Gaza Strip, even if they were not directly behind the
rocket fire. The problem now though is that Friday night is the first
night of Passover and airstrikes in Gaza could mean that the
residents of southern Israel will need to hold their Seders in bomb
shelters. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/05/12)
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