Egypt announced Friday that it had arrested a dozen armed Hamas militants who apparently crossed into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip through holes in a border security wall. Egypt said the men were carrying explosives, and planned to attack Israeli tourists. Cairo said it would seal the border wall—which Hamas toppled to protest an Israeli blockade—and that it had held talks with both Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the Palestinian authority on restoring border control. (Haaretz)
What the commentators said
The recent “dramatic events” in Gaza have “overshadowed” the peace process, said Khaled Amayreh in Egypt’s semi-official Al-Ahram Weekly. The latest meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was completely sidetracked by the border troubles. Abbas urged Israel to lift its blockade in an attempt to show Palestinians that he—not Hamas—was the one who could restore normal life by opening the borders. Actually, he can’t do it without “at least tacit coordination” with Hamas.
Israel has to face facts too, said The Economist in an editorial. It’s “policy of punishing the Gazans in the hope that they would get rid of Hamas, which they had elected two years ago, was not only morally wrong,” but the “Gaza fiasco” provided fresh proof that it has “failed.” Israel now has to swallow hard and deal with Hamas, because it is clear that leaving “angry” Islamists “outside any deal that Israel makes with other Palestinians” will only threaten long-term peace.
Hamas “apologists” insist that this border stunt was a big success, said Steven Huntley in the Chicago Sun-Times. They claim it broke an Israeli “siege”—the blockade imposed after a surge in Hamas rocket attacks. “In reality, Hamas showed that it only knows violence, not how to deliver the necessities of life to the people it claims to have in its best interests.” Israel is “willing to live side-by-side with Palestinians;” Hamas has accepted an “intolerable life” for its people “to make war on the one people willing to be their neighbors.”