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Egypt's War on Terrorism Exposes World's Double Standards

[Khaled Abu Toameh]

Summary ... Egypt's crackdown in Sinai once again exposes the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

Three months after the military conformation between Hamas and Israel, the Egyptians are also waging their own war on terrorism in north Sinai.

But Egypt's war, which began after Islamist terrorists butchered 33 Egyptian soldiers, does not seem to worry the international community and human rights organizations, at least not as much as Israel's operation to stop rockets and missiles from being fired into it from the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian army's security crackdown includes the demolition of hundreds of houses External link along the border with the Gaza Strip and the transfer of thousands of people to new locations.

Egypt's goal is to establish a security buffer zone along its shared border with the Gaza Strip in order to prevent terrorists from using smuggling tunnels to launch attacks External link on Egyptian soldiers and civilians. In other words, the Egyptians are tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip and collectively punishing the Palestinians [sic] living there, not only Hamas.

All this is happening before eyes of the international community and media. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council has not been asked to hold an emergency meeting to condemn what some Egyptian human rights activists describe as the "transfer" and "displacement" of hundreds of families in Sinai.

Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist Gamal Eid said [in Arabic on his Twitter account] that the Egyptian security measures were "unconstitutional." External link He noted that Article 63 of the Egyptian constitution prohibits the forcible and arbitrary transfer of citizens in all forms.

Egyptian security experts warned this week that the "displacement" of Sinai residents would not stop terrorist attacks on the Egyptian police and army.

Former General Safwat al-Zayyat said he expected the terrorists to intensify their attacks not only in Sinai but also in other parts of Egypt, including Cairo, to prove that the Egyptian army's measures are ineffective. He also predicted that the transfer of thousands of families and the demolition of their homes would play into the hands of the terrorists.

Egyptian activist Massad Abu Fajr wrote External link on his Facebook page that the forcible eviction of families from their homes in Egypt was tantamount to a "declaration of war by the Egyptian authorities" on the three largest and powerful clans in Sinai. He too predicted that the security crackdown would boomerang and further strengthen the terrorists.

But what is perhaps more worrying is the fear that the unprecedented security clampdown in Egypt will drive Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip to resume their attacks on Israel.

Egypt destroys a house for buffer zone.
A building is blown up by Egypt's army as part of an operation to clear all buildings out of a "buffer zone," along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptians, of course, are entitled to wage a ruthless war on the various terror groups that have long been operating in Sinai. However, by tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians are also giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad an excuse to resume their attacks on Israel.

The two Palestinian terror groups are not going to retaliate by attacking Egypt. They know that Egypt's response to such an attack would be more severe than Israel's military response [and, again, there would be no outcry from the international community—ed]. That explains why Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been cautious in their response to Egypt's measures — no condemnations or protests thus far.

In fact, Hamas is already in a state of panic in the wake of allegations by some Egyptians that Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were involved in the killing of the soldiers in Sinai.

Once again, Egyptian journalists are calling on their president to go after Hamas in response to the Sinai attack. A previous attack on Egyptian soldiers in Sinai earlier this year prompted similar calls.

Reham Noaman, a prominent Egyptian journalist, called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi External link to "crush" Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam. "Israel is not better than us," she said. "When Israel wants to hit Hamas because of a rocket that is not worth a penny, it does not seek permission from the Security Council."

The Egyptians have finally realized that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region's main exporters of terrorism. Israel reached this conclusion several years ago, when Hamas and other terror groups began firing rockets and missiles at Israeli communities.

The Egyptians have also come to learn that the smuggling tunnels along their shared border with the Gaza Strip work in both directions. In the past, the Egyptians believed that the tunnels were being used only to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. Now, however, they are convinced that these tunnels are also being used to smuggle weapons and terrorists out of the Gaza Strip.

Now that the Egyptians have chosen completely to seal off their border with the Gaza Strip, the chances of another military confrontation between Hamas and Israel have increased. Hamas will undoubtedly try to break out of its increased isolation by initiating another war with Israel.

The Egyptians, for their part, are not going to mind if another war breaks out between the Palestinians and Israel — as long as the military confrontation is taking place on the other side of the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.

And of course, the international community will once again rush to accuse Israel of "genocide" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, the international community will continue to ignore Egypt's bulldozing hundreds of homes and the forcible eviction of thousands of people in Sinai.

If anything, the Egyptian security crackdown in Sinai has once again exposed the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

[ Published: November 3, 2014 ]



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