Muslim Brotherhood (Probably) Wins Presidency; Egyptian-Islamist/Hamas Jihad Against Israel (Apparently) Begins
A well-organized, well-equipped group of terrorists has attacked Israel from Egyptian territory Monday morning, possibly the second such Egyptian-assisted assault in a week.
As for the presidential election, the Brotherhood candidate, Muhammad al-Mursi, seems the likely winner. His rival, Ahmad Shafiq, won Cairo by a big margin but it was not enough to overcome al-Mursi’s lead in the countryside. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are claiming victory. Official results will be released on June 21.
Al-Mursi has openly declared his support for Hamas and priority on battling Israel on some level. Those campaigning for him, in his presence, have said that the Brotherhood is seeking a Sharia state in Egypt and a caliphate over the whole Middle East whose capital will be in a conquered Jerusalem. The Salafists–a coalition of many hardline Islamist groups–gave the Brotherhood candidate full support.
An armed squad of two men—said to be Hamas, though this is not confirmed—crossed the border after travelling 30 miles from the Gaza Strip through Egyptian territory. They wore flak jackets, camouflaged uniforms, and carried a large amounts of explosives. Members of their support team remained on the Egyptian side of the border. The two men hid by Israel’s highway 12, near an area called White River Lake.
When two vehicles came by, carrying workers finishing up a security fence to guard against just such attacks, they set off a bomb that had been placed on the roadway and fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Both missed but bullets from a Kalashnikov hit one of the vehicles which flipped over. One Israeli, an ethnic Arab labor contractor, was killed, two or three terrorists have been shot dead.
Within minutes, Israeli soldiers arrived and fired on the terrorists. Their bullets blew up a suicide vest being worn by one of them, killing two of the attackers.
This event follows a report in Haaretz newspaper, attributed to Israeli security officials, that the Muslim Brotherhood had asked Hamas to attack Israel. According to the story, an Egyptian Bedouin unit was given the job of firing a rocket, which landed in open ground in southern Israel. This story was not picked up by other Israeli newspapers, suggesting either that it was wrong or that it had been a security leak which the army had then stopped.
So far this year, 280 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This has prompted no international concern or action. The new fence along the Egypt-Israel border is mostly complete but due to difficult terrain the last portion will only be finished late this year.
At any rate, we are now at the beginning of Egypt’s involvement, directly or indirectly, in a new wave of terrorist assault on Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, a likelihood made less probable perhaps by the military’s dissolution of parliament, this offensive will enjoy official support. Even if the army remains in control, the Brotherhood and Salafists will use their considerable assets to back this new insurgency war.
The ultimate scenario would be if Hamas decided to renew a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip using rockets, mortars, and attempted cross-border attacks. Egyptian Islamists would send volunteers and money. The Egyptian army would not be scrupulous in stopping the smuggling of weapons, terrorists, and money across the border. As Egyptian fighters are killed in the Gaza Strip the hysteria in Egypt would escalate.
In such a scenario, the army would also allow Hamas to have military bases and headquarters on Egyptian territory, where Israel could not attack them. Indeed, this is already happening. And the Egypt-Israel border would not be protected from cross-border attacks.
A most serious scenario would be if Egypt itself was dragged (under an army regime) or went willingly (under a Brotherhood one) to war with Israel.
Where is the U.S. government in all of this? It’s insisting that the Egyptian military turn power over to a civilian government which, until last week, would have been a Brotherhood government. Washington is merely a distant observer, and one continuing to insist on Muslim Brotherhood moderation despite that group’s extremist history and actions. The policy choice taken by Obama is to issue statements supporting democracy and to view the Brotherhood as a force that can be coopted and moderated. The mass media generally follows this lead in setting the narrative. A different president would understand that the Islamists are the enemy of America and support the military in trying to limit their power. This distinction matters big-time. It helps determine not only the fate of U.S. interests but also the future of 80 million Egyptians, Israel’s security, and the likelihood of further upheavals and wars in the Middle East.
...and from Reuters, 18 June 2012, by Maayan Lubell:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Militants who crossed into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Desert fired on Israelis building a barrier on the border on Monday, killing one worker, before soldiers shot dead two of the attackers, Israel's military said. Israel later launched air strikes killing four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including two militants from the Islamic Jihad group on a motorcycle. Two other militants were killed while trying to fire a rocket, Israel said.
The Sinai attack, launched soon after the Muslim Brotherhood declared victory in Egypt's presidential election, raised Israeli concerns about lawlessness in the area since the fall of president Hosni Mubarak last year.
"We can see a disturbing deterioration in Egypt's control of the Sinai's security," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, commenting on the attack.
"We are waiting for the election results. Whoever wins, we expect him to take responsibility over all of Egypt's international commitments, including the (1979) peace treaty with Israel and security arrangements in the Sinai, and to put an end to these attacks swiftly," he told reporters.
Three gunmen crossed into Israel from the Sinai Desert, the Israeli military said.
"A terrorist squad opened fire and possibly also fired an anti-tank rocket at an area where (Israel) is constructing the border fence," spokesman Yoav Mordechai said.
Soldiers who rushed to the scene killed two of the militants but could not find the third, who may have returned to Egypt, the military said.
A military source said the dead worker was an Arab citizen of Israel. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place about 30 km (18 miles) from the Gaza Strip.
Israel is building a fence along the frontier to curb an influx of African migrants and boost security, and hopes to complete it by the end of the year. It will run along most of the 266 km (165 miles) from Eilat, on the Red Sea, to the Gaza Strip.
In August last year, militants crossed over the Egyptian border and killed eight Israelis, in the most serious attack in the area since the Egyptian popular uprising.
On Saturday, at least two rockets were fired deep into southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties. It was not clear whether they had been launched from Sinai.
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamist group Hamas, have launched rockets at Israel from the coastal territory in the past. Israel says Palestinian militants have also crossed into Sinai to launch similar attacks.
Late on Sunday, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the enclave. Medical sources in Gaza said seven people were wounded.