When the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed in 1979, the 14 km (8.7 mile) security and buffer zone known as the Philadelphi Corridor was under Israel’s control. Its purpose was to prevent the illegal importation into the Gaza Strip from Egypt of weapons and terrorists to be used against the Jewish state. The Oslo Accords, signed in 1995, allowed Israel to retain the security corridor, but it soon became apparent that Sinai Bedouin and the Palestinian Arabs were digging ever more sophisticated smuggling tunnels under it.
Then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to vacate the vital security strip separating Egyptian Sinai from the Gaza Strip as a “peaceful gesture” to the Palestinian Arabs. This proved to be another land for peace disaster in which the Arabs receive the land but the Israelis don’t receive peace.
Following the infamous and tragic disengagement from Gaza in 2005, forced upon the residents of Gush Katif by Ariel Sharon, Israel ceded control of the Philadelphi Corridor to the Palestinian Authority in September of that year. Meanwhile, extensive smuggling continued. It was only a matter of time before Hamas evicted their Fatah rivals in a bloody coup—which they did in 2007. Hamas, with its charter calling for Israel’s extermination, has ruled the Gaza Strip since then, including the Philadelphi Corridor.
Ahmed Qurei, the former P.A. prime minister, once asked Tzipi Livni, Israel’s erstwhile and left-wing foreign minister, if Israel would repossess the Corridor to seal the border and cut off supplies to Hamas, the P.A.’s deadly rival. Apparently, Livni did nothing, and Hamas has been greatly strengthened militarily ever since. It is, nevertheless, crystal clear that failure to repossess this vitally strategic area now, or very soon, will spell dire security problems for Israel.
What if Egypt should fall again under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it did when Hosni Mubarak was president? There would then be no more need for smuggling tunnels beneath the Egyptian-Gaza border. Instead, endless fleets of trucks would bring military supplies into the Strip from Egypt. Only by fully controlling the Philadelphi Corridor can Israel stem such a lethal tide.
Despite President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s control of Egypt, Egyptian state media, like that of Hamas and the P.A., openly proclaims its adherence to Islam’s eternal requirement that all lands once conquered in the name of Allah must, if lost, be warred on until regained for Allah. This is not extreme or radical Islam. This is authentic Islam, and the non-Muslim world ignores it at its peril. Accordingly, there can never be a lasting peace between Israel and the Muslim world; “peace now” and the “two-state solution” are simply dreams.
Therefore, Israel should repossess the Philadelphi Corridor for its own security and survival. Doing so will no doubt evoke screams of rage from the morally compromised world—but these voices will condemn Israel whatever it does. So it is surely better to be hanged in the media and the international corridors of power as a lion than as a sheep.
So take it, Israel, and take it soon, for the Muslim Brotherhood neither sleeps nor rests, and time in this instance is most assuredly not on Israel’s side. Despite the present “assurances” from the Egyptian military that they will continue to honor their existing peace treaty with Israel, it is imperative for the Jewish state not to be lulled yet again into a sense of false security.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer specializing in biblical and post-biblical Jewish history while covering the Israel-Islam conflict. He has written and had published seven books including the highly acclaimed four-volume work titled, “Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.”