News Flash: New Phase in War as Terrorists Cross Egypt-Israel Border, Many Dead
Speaking of which, both Hamas and Fatah sites feature rejoicing at the killing of Israelis. Nobody is critical of the attacks. One Fatah site has such remarks as: "Our Lord is with the heroes"; "[I] call for resistance in the Gaza with rocket fire and suicide bombings and the Glory of God and His Messenger"; "Tribute to the Heroes of each attack and no matter what their affiliation"; "God is great and victory is coming."
This attack may indeed be only the opening round. Massive Palestinian demonstrations are planned for September either to demand, celebrate, or mourn the UN's response to a unilateral declaration of independence. The Palestinian Authority leadership says it wants the marches to be peaceful. But in this atmosphere that's hard to imagine.
Meanwhile, despite assurances from the interim Egyptian government, once a radical majority directs foreign policy after the coming elections -- combining leftists, extreme nationalists, and Islamists who are all anti-American and militant toward Israel -- Hamas will gain confidence that Egypt is behind the armed struggle.
The better-case scenario is that Egypt restricts itself to letting arms, money, and volunteers cross into Gaza. The medium-case scenario is if Egypt's government doesn't do a very good job of stopping cross-border attacks and other provocations by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups in Egypt. The worst-case scenario is if Egypt actively joins Hamas.
If you read in the mass media that Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood are good guys fighting against the "Salafist" terrorists from al-Qaeda, I give you permission to snort derisively and cancel your subscriptions.
Oh, and here's my favorite media coverage example from the Daily Beast, part of Newsweek:
"Israel has stuck back after a series of attacks that left at least seven dead and 25 injured. Do you support Israel's right to retaliate -- or does that simply lead to more instability in the region?"
What do you say? Right, terrorists have the right to attack Israel and murder people but Israel has no right to retaliate because that causes more instability? Well, yes, I'm sure a lot of "highly educated" people think that way.
The only defenses to the increasingly worse scenarios are: the Egyptian military's hope to continue receiving U.S. aid; the army's fear that it would lose a war; a demagogic but pragmatic president in the person of Amr Mousa; and centrist forces that want to pursue economic development and higher living standards rather than foreign adventures. Israel will now have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars -- that otherwise could have gone for new housing -- to build a border fence along a border of roughly 125 miles (the current fence is only 20 percent completed).
There is something to that combination of factors but it is not quite enough to make one feel things will remain calm. For example, the two best-known "reformist" leaders -- Ayman Nour and Muhammad ElBaradei, who are both running for president -- have called for revising the treaty in Egypt's favor. Some officers have radical nationalist and Islamist sympathies. And pragmatism is often trumped by demagoguery and foreign adventures in the Arabic-speaking world. Indeed, with Egypt headed for a major economic crisis within the next two years, such trends seem almost inevitable.
Here is some background material on events in Egypt and Sinai: