Israel has declared plans to build an underground wall separating the Palestinian territory of Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, an area of Egyptian territory which was previously illegally occupied by Israel between 1967 and 1982.
Israel’s current relationship with Sinai has become increasingly worrying due to the presence of ISIS renegade fighters in Sinai whom the Egyptian military and police frequently engage in combat. There is a grave worry that Israel might use the excuse of ISIS’ presence in Sinai to once again invade and occupy part of Egypt.
This is doubly awkward as in Syria, Israel has taken aggressive actions to thwart efforts of the Syrian led anti-terrorist coalition while opening up Israeli hospitals to jihadists fighting in Syria in a move designed to demoralise the secular Ba’athist government of Syria that has been considered an enemy by Israel since the inception of Ba’athist rule in Syria, starting in 1963.
In spite of the fact that Israel, al-Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS are all fighting to undermine the government of Syria, ISIS and other jihadist terrorists is the excuse Israel is using to justify plans to fortify the border between Palestine and Egypt. The longer term plan could be to invade Sinai under this same pretext.
In the longer term, were Israel to occupy all of Sinai and in particular gain access to the Suez Canal, Israel would be able to exercise some influence over important global shipping routes which are to form an integral part of China’s One Belt–One Road.
China is already acting to exert its own influence at the opening of the Red Sea at the Bab-el-Mandeb, a narrow strait which separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden where Saudi Arabia is currently exercising a naval blockade of Yemen which many see as the proximate cause of the mass starvation and cholera epidemic that has struck Yemen.
Should Israel move into Sinai, China would have a great deal to say and based on its new position from its recently opened military logistics base in the east African state of Djibouti, things could become tense in short order.
Of course, the short term effect of Israel’s activity would be to cut of Gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world.
Sputnik reports the following,
“MOSCOW, August 4 (Sputnik) – Israel plans to build an underground barrier along its Egyptian border near the Gaza Strip to prevent the militants of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, outlawed in Russia) operating on the Sinai peninsula from digging tunnels into Israel, local media reported Friday.
According to Ynetnews web portal, it will be a continuation of the barrier currently being constructed around the Gaza Strip with an estimated cost of $940 million, which is expected to be completed within a year and a half.
The new plan outlines a 0.6-mile extension of the barrier toward the south of the enclave and the possibility of building a 1.8-mile subterranean wall along the border.
In 2014, Sinai’s indigenous militants pledged allegiance to IS. The self-proclaimed Wilayat Sinai has subsequently claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in the area. However, Egyptian security forces have been unable to maintain absolute control in the area.
For years, Israel has been attempting to deal with these underground tunnels, which are used by terrorists to penetrate into the Jewish state and stage attacks against civilians.
A network of secret tunnels used for smuggling and military purposes stretches from the southern and northern tips of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a blockade imposed by Israel since in 2007.
In June, Israel announced plans to build concrete walls that lay dozens of feet underground to prevent Hamas militants from entering the Jewish State’s territory”.
The reality is that the tunnels from Egypt into Gaza are the only way that the people of Gaza can receive food, medicine, clothes and important household goods. Gaza is otherwise encircled by Israel, including the Israeli controlled Mediterranean cost of Gaza.
If Israel builds the subterranean wall between Gaza and Egypt, Israel will be effectively annexing what is de-facto to the border between Egypt and Palestine and what’s more, it will help prepare Israel to be better placed to invade and occupy Sinai in the event that they should do so, irrespective of the stated excuse.
This ought to worry Egypt as much as anyone else.
By Adam Garrie