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Photo: Border Guard Ramon
Weapons found along the Israel-Egypt border (Archive)
Photo: Border Guard Ramon
Photo: Border Guard
Goods and camels are also smuggled over (Archive)
Photo: Border Guard
Israel indifferent to breached border
Israel-Egypt border breached for passage of goods and people. Over past two years IDF confiscated 300 rifles and 30 tons of hashish. Since pullout, smuggling has increased

The breached border between Israel and Egypt has become one of the most distressing security problems, notorious for the smuggling of weapons, goods, prostitutes and drugs. However, Israel has chosen to do little about it.

 

During the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday IDF Intelligence Director Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash told the government ministers present that al-Qaeda has even established a base in Sinai.

 

Border Guard forces arrived at the border late Sunday night following intelligence information regarding the smuggling of goods. They caught six camels and a 12-year-old Egyptian Bedouin who was given 200 Egyptian Liras to smuggle 400 kilograms of tobacco.

 

This is the exactly how Kalashnikov rifles, prostitutes and drugs are being smuggled into Israel.

 

A senior intelligence official has warned that "if we continue to remain indifferent to this problem, it will become the next Lebanon zone."

 

No border exists

 

A night-time drive along the 200-kilometer border reveals what the smugglers and Bedouins already know - a border simply does not exist. From Kerem Shalom to Eilat, all that is left are the remains of a wire fence, who knows from when.

 

It was a routine night for the Border Guard unit Sunday. They drove along the road parallel to the border in complete darkness, looking for traces of smugglers. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

 

Within one second - even by accident - one can effortlessly cross over the Israel-Egypt border without trying to hide.

 

At night it is forbidden to drive on Road 10 parallel to the border, and during the day it is forbidden to drive without a weapon and an accompanying person.

 

During pullout 2 smuggling attempts thwarted

 

The Border Guard unit, with the assistance of intelligence information and excellent trackers, manage to detain large numbers of smugglers.

 

Most are Bedouins on the Egyptian side and those who collect the goods or the foreign workers on the Israeli side.

 

Since the Ramon Border Guard unit was established in 2003, it has confiscated some 300 rifles, mostly Kalashnikovs. About 125 of them were found during the first half of the year.

 

Most of the weapons are intended for the West Bank's terror organizations. Since the disengagement, the weapons smuggling route has been replaced by the breached Philadelphi route.

 

Over the past two years, 30 tons of hashish and more than 100 tons of tobacco have been confiscated along the Nitzana-Eilat border. By June, 460 arrests were made in the area - 240 of them were related to prostitution, foreign workers and the confiscations of weapons and drugs.

 

During pullout, two smuggling attempts were thwarted.

 

However, Border Guard forces only succeed in foiling 50 percent of the smugglings.

 

This time the "catch" was six camels loaded with tobacco, "commanded" by a 12-year-old boy.

 

"Every night there is at least one incident such as this one," Superintendent Eli Gozlan said. "We cannot catch 100 percent. We only manage to foil between 40 to 50 percent of the infiltrations we know about." 

 

Border Guard: The threat is here and now

 

Since the disengagement, Border Guard police have caught 45 Gaza residents who have passed from Gaza into Egypt and then entered Israel.

 

"Many have not succeeded in crossing because they are not Bedouins and cannot hide their traces and navigate at night. The Bedouins are also afraid to help the Gazans and prefer to focus on drugs and cigarettes," one Border Guard officer said.

 

The officers in the area say that in order to solve the border problem there is need for an overall systemic solution.

 

"We have to operate in the Bedouin sector, preventing the attraction of smuggling goods. Simultaneously, the attention must be focused

on this border. We left Gaza and we need the forces that were there - here. The threat is here and now. We need a fence, obstacles and means," Gozlan said.

 

Despite the clear threat, the deputy chief of staff has been the only defense official to visit the area. The heads of the defense establishment and government officials have remained indifferent, and the only ones who are trying to raise the awareness are the heads of the Ramat Negev and Eshkol regional councils, which are located near the border.

 

"The border is frightening. If it is not properly dealt with, it will become even more frightening," Gozlan concludes.

 


First published: 10.10.05, 19:34
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