January 24 - Egypt: Israeli lies regarding alleged smuggling arms along borders lead to serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli ties


File- Diaa Rashwan during the 6th session of the Board of Trustees of the National Dialogue on September 10, 2022- press photo

Jan 24, 2024. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service (SIS) announced that recent remarks by Israeli officials, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about alleged smuggling operations of weapons, explosives, ammunition, and their components, into the Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory through alleged tunnels are lies and groundless.


“These Israeli claims and lies aim to create a “legitimacy” through which it seeks to occupy the Philadelphia Axis (also known as the Salah al-Din Axis, which refers to a strip of land along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip) by violating the security agreements and protocols signed between Israel and Egypt. So, we strongly confirm that any Israeli move in this direction will lead to a serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,” Rashwan said in a statement on Monday.


“This Egyptian red line joins the previous one, which Egypt has repeatedly declared, which is the categorical rejection of forcibly or voluntarily displacing our Palestinian brothers to Sinai. This line Israel will not be allowed to pass,” he added.


He said that the world knows about the tremendous efforts exerted by Egypt over the past 10 years to get rid of tunnels along Egypt’s borders with Palestinian Gaza and Israel, to achieve security and stability in Sinai and enhance security on the border between Egyptian Rafah and the Gaza Strip. Egypt had suffered greatly from these tunnels during the fierce confrontation with terrorist groups in Sinai after the overthrow of the Brotherhood regime in June 2013 until 2020. These tunnels had represented a means for smuggling fighters and weapons to Sinai to carry out terrorist operations that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 martyrs from the army, police, and civilians, and more than 13,000 injured.


Rashwan clarified Egypt had gotten rid of these tunnels by creating a 5-kilometer-long buffer zone from the Egyptian city of Rafah to the border with Gaza, besides destroying more than 1,500 tunnels.


Rashwan added that Egypt has set up three barriers between Sinai and Palestinian Rafah by expanding the zone to 14 kilometers and building a concrete 6-meter-high wall above the ground and a 6-meter-deep barrier under the ground. So, any smuggling operation is impossible, neither above ground nor underground.


“Egypt has full sovereignty over its land, and has complete control over its entire northeastern borders, whether with the Gaza Strip or with Israel,” he said.


 “Surprisingly, Israel speaks in this undocumented way about the allegations of arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza, while it [Israel] is the country that has military control over the Strip and possesses the most modern and accurate means of reconnaissance and monitoring; and its forces, settlements, and naval forces surround the small strip on three sides and sends accusations to Egypt without any further evidence.”


Israeli claims that smuggling operations are carried out through trucks carrying aid and goods to the Gaza Strip from the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing is an empty and ridiculous statement, because any truck entering the Gaza Strip from this crossing must first pass through the Israeli-run Kerem Abu Salem crossing, for inspection. Meanwhile, the recipients of this aid are the Palestinian Red Crescent and United Nations relief organizations such as UNRWA, which adds further evidence of the Israeli lies, Rashwan said.


He said that the true aim of Israel’s claims is to justify its continuation of the collective punishment, killing, and starvation of more than 2 million Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, which it [Israel] has practiced for 17 years.


“The Israeli government must conduct serious investigations inside its army, state agencies, and sectors of society, to search for those truly involved in smuggling weapons to Gaza, from inside, for the purpose of profit,” he said.


“Egypt was the initiative and agreed with Israel, in 2005 and 2021, to increase the size of the border guard forces and capabilities in this border region in order to secure the northeastern strategic border, out of respect for the peace treaty with Israel, and so that the latter does not take any unilateral step on its part,” he added.


Many of the weapons currently inside the Gaza Strip are the result of smuggling from Israel like M16 rifles and types of RPGs, as well as dual-use materials in the military manufacturing of the military wings in the Gaza Strip. It is sufficient to review what the Israeli media publishes about the investigations taking place with members of the Israeli army, on the background of the disappearance of weapons or their sale in the West Bank, and from there they are sent to the Gaza Strip, he said.


“Speaking of the West Bank, can Israeli officials, who are spreading lies against Egypt, explain the source of the large quantities of weapons, ammunition and explosives spread in various areas of the West Bank, according to their official statements, in light of the full control of the occupation army over it, and that it does not have any kind of border with Egypt? Then, they will only find the same people involved, from their army, state agencies, and sectors of society, in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip for the purpose of profit,” he continued.


The information shows that most of the heavy weapons smuggling operations into the Gaza Strip take place across the Mediterranean Sea, where its shores with Gaza are completely controlled by the Israeli naval and air forces. This indicates the same people involved in Israel, from its army, its state agencies, and sectors of society, in weapons smuggling to Gaza for the purpose of profit, Rashwan clarified.


It is worth noting Israeli army revealed, during the current war, especially the video ones, about the seizure of many weapons, missiles, and explosives manufacturing workshops inside the tunnels in Gaza, which means that there is a high possibility that a large part of the armament of Hamas and the Palestinian factions will be manufactured locally and not through smuggling, said Rashwan.


“The Israeli allegations and lies are a continuation of Israel's policy of escape due to its successive failures in achieving its declared goals for the war on Gaza. It [Israel] is looking for someone responsible outside of its area for these failures, as it also did the same thing recently by accusing Egypt at the International Court of Justice of being the one preventing and obstructing Humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, despite its full knowledge that Egypt did not close the Rafah crossing on its part, even for a single moment,” he said.


“The arbitrary policies of successive Israeli governments have eliminated any prospects for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue and encouraged the separation of the Gaza Strip under the leadership of Hamas from the Palestinian Authority, including turning a blind eye to the funding it receives and the stifling siege of the Strip,” he continued.


“These policies, for more than a decade and a half, are part of Netanyahu's strategy to deepen the Palestinian division and ensure the separation of Gaza from the West Bank to weaken the Palestinian Authority, and to have the justification to refuse to enter into any negotiations on a two-state solution,” Rashwa added.


“Egypt's full support and solidarity with the Palestinian cause is certain and realistic without the slightest doubt, and is in line with Egypt’s official statute of supporting the rights of the Palestinian people in their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of June 4, 1967,” he said.


“Egypt's popular and official solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause does not conflict with securing our borders and preventing smuggling to and from it.  Supporting the Palestinian cause has many political ways that bear fruit until the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights, which Egypt has done publicly since the beginning of the recent crisis, and before that all the time in support of the brotherly Palestinian people,” he continued.


“No doubt that such [Israeli] false allegations do not serve the positive Egyptian efforts made to resolve the crisis in Gaza, which has affected the entire region and made it ripe for expanding the circle of conflict, the matter that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned against repeatedly,” Rashwan said.


“In conclusion, these false allegations do not serve the peace treaty that Egypt respects. Egypt demands that the Israeli side to show its respect for it also, and to stop making statements that would strain bilateral relations in light of the current inflammatory conditions,” he added.


“Egypt calls on everyone who talks about failure in protecting borders to stop making these allegations because it [Egypt] has a strong army capable of protecting its borders with all efficiency and discipline. Egypt will continue its natural positive role to solve all the problems of the region, and these false allegations will not succeed in dissuading Egypt from carrying out its internal, regional and international responsibilities,” he said.

Egypt Today