By Arab News
By Gobran Mohamed
Egypt has denied Israeli claims that its territory was used to smuggle ammunition and weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s State Information Service, said several statements by Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, included claims that explosives and arms reached Gaza from Egypt through cross-border tunnels.
He said that Egypt’s decade-long effort to achieve security and stability in the Sinai region and on the border “confirms the falsehood of these allegations.”
Rashwan added: “Israel is the country that militarily controls the Gaza Strip and possesses the most modern and accurate means of reconnaissance and monitoring, and its forces, settlements, and naval forces surround the small territory of Gaza from three sides.
“Any claim that smuggling operations are carried out through trucks carrying aid and goods to the Gaza Strip from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing is ridiculous, because any truck entering the Gaza Strip from this crossing must first pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is run by the Israeli authorities, which inspects all trucks entering the strip.”
Through the claim, Israel is attempting “to justify its continuation of the process of collective punishment, killing, and starvation of more than 2 million Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, which it has practiced for 17 years,” he said.
“Israel’s continued promotion of these lies is an attempt to create legitimacy for its attempt to occupy the Philadelphi Corridor or the Salah Al-Din Corridor in the Gaza Strip along the border with Egypt, in violation of the security agreements and protocols signed between Israel and Egypt.
“The reoccupation of this corridor by Israel would pose a grave threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,” Rashwan said.
“Egypt, respecting its international commitments, can defend its interests and sovereignty … and will not jeopardize them in the hands of a group of extremist Israeli leaders seeking to drag the region into conflict and instability.”
Rashwan called on the Israeli government to investigate its own state apparatus to identify the source of any arms smuggled into Gaza.
“Many weapons currently in Gaza were smuggled from Israel, such as M16 rifles and types of RPGs, in addition to materials for military manufacturing,” he said.
Rashwan added that Egypt’s support for the Palestinian cause is “certain and realistic without the slightest doubt, and is in line with Egypt’s official position on supporting the rights of the Palestinian people for an independent state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israel’s “false” allegation undermines Egypt’s efforts to resolve the crisis in Gaza, he said.
Rashwan added that the policies of successive Israeli governments have almost eliminated any prospects for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue, and have encouraged division among Palestinians.
“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.”