Jerusalem – Israel has taken steps to extend the truce agreement currently in place in Gaza.
Dec. 19 will mark six months since the truce agreement was reached between Israel and Egypt on the one hand and between Egypt and Hamas on the other.
This agreement has resulted in a temporary halt of massive rocket attacks on the Jewish communities in Sderot and the part of the Western Negev that borders Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said on numerous occasions that it remains in Israel’s best interest to preserve the truce agreement in its current format and to extend it for as long as possible.
How to extend the truce beyond its six-month duration was the subject of series of discussions that were held by Director of the Political-Security Staff in the Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad last Sunday with Egyptian officials in Cairo. Israeli officials said that maintaining the truce agreement was in Egypt’s best interest as well.
In the course of the meeting, Israel painted a gloomy picture for the Egyptians about the continued smuggling operations from the Sinai peninsula into the Gaza Strip, including the smuggling of an unknown number of heavy machineguns and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
Furthermore, large quantities of standard explosives have continued to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, as have fertilizers that serve Gaza’s homemade explosives industry. One Israeli intelligence assessment indicates Hamas is currently assembling a number of car bombs, packing them with hundreds of pounds of explosives, as part of its preparations for a possible military confrontation with Israel.
Despite the fact that Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that remains ostracized by the entire world, Egypt has long-term plans of its own for Gaza. (Prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.)
The Arabic language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in London reports that Egypt plans to establish a free-trade zone with international services along its border with the Gaza Strip.
The project, which is supposed to get under way by 2027, is being administered by the Urban Planning Committee in Ismailiya.
The project is expected to include the construction of a train station, parking lots and even a fishing port. Hisham Rajeb, the supervisor for Rafah planning, presented the plan on Tuesday to the governor of northern Sinai, Muhammad Abdel Fadil Shusha.
IDF Troops Shoot Palestinian Who Threw Firebomb
On Wednesday night, IDF troops shot a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist who threw a firebomb at them near the Beit El Jewish community, just north of Jerusalem. The terrorist sustained critical injuries.
On Tuesday evening, another 17-year-old Palestinian man approached IDF troops near the UNRWA Jelazoun refugee camp, also near Beit El. The terrorist threw a firebomb and was immediately shot and killed by the soldiers.
When the soldiers scoured the area near the terrorist, they found dozens of additional firebombs that were ready for use.
David Bedein can be reached at [email protected]. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008