Egypt and the PA must secure Gaza's borders....
The Palestinians need to understand that their behavior affects future Israeli moves in the West Bank.
The collapse of the Gaza-Egyptian border in the three days since Israel withdrew from the Strip, which has allowed thousands of Palestinians to enter Sinai and numerous Egyptians to enter Gaza, is extremely worrisome to Jerusalem. Israel is fearful not only of massive arms smuggling into Gaza, and consequently to the West Bank, but also, and particularly, that Al-Qaida operatives will be able to enter Gaza freely.
The border collapse, caused by Egypt's failure to maintain even minimal supervision over the crossing, is occurring at a time when Egypt is having trouble eliminating Al-Qaida cells in the Sinai. Thus far, Al-Qaida operatives have failed to infiltrate Israel, but Jerusalem fears that now the organization will renew its efforts to send operatives from Sinai into Gaza, and after that to the West Bank. This will be hard to prevent without Egyptian and Jordanian cooperation.
Egypt's excuses for its failure cannot be viewed as anything other than an attempt to evade responsibility. It was immediately obvious that only a fraction of the Egyptian force agreed upon with Israel was actually stationed along the border - a handful of policemen per kilometer. And when the Palestinians stormed the border, it was also clear these policemen had no orders regarding how to behave. In retrospect, Israel clearly erred by leaving the border before the entire Egyptian force was in place. The government had considered leaving Israeli soldiers along the border until the Egyptian force was not only present, but also operating effectively, but ultimately rejected this proposal. The lesson is that Israel should not rely on another party until its efficacy has been successfully field-tested.
The quantity of arms Palestinians have managed to smuggle over the past three days remains unclear. However, it is known that large quantities of rocket-propelled grenade launchers were brought in. It is also known that various organizations - not only Hamas, but also the Palestinian security services - had large arms caches in Sinai awaiting an opportunity for them to be smuggled over the border.
When the scope of Egypt's failure became evident, Israel sent a stiff protest to Cairo. The Egyptians promised Tuesday night that they had solved the problem, but yesterday, it was clear they had not. They repeated this promise last night; its accuracy will be tested today.