The volatile security situation in Sinai, last summer's terror attack on Route 12 and the recent firing of Grad rockets towards Eilat have led Israel to reassess its defense strategy vis-à-vis its southern borders. A new book released by Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, highlights the strategic importance of Eilat and its port to Israel.
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Addressing the book, titled "Umm Rashrash (Eilat) - life or death for Israel," a senior Jihad operative said, "From the city of Eilat (Israel) sends out its octopus arms to the coasts, cities and capitals of Africa and Asia and cunningly sneaks into the fabric of their lives to carry out its plans, which are aimed to destroy these cities and thus preserve (Israel's) existence."
The 156-page book explores Eilat's history and its conquest while claimng that Jewish leaders from the early days of Zionism recognized Africa's importance. To prove its point, the book mentions that the Zionist movement's leaders considered establishing a Jewish state in Uganda. It also notes that late prime minister David Ben-Gurion sought to improve Israel's relations with various African countries in hopes they would support the Jewish state during crucial votes at international bodies.
In the book, Islamic Jihad also outlines its plan to restrict Israel's movement from the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa:
- Maintain security-related cooperation between the Arab states and attempt to establish a joint Arab naval force.
- Boost Arab military presence in the region.
- Form a strategic alliance between Arab countries bordering the Red Sea.
The senior Jihad operative admitted that the Palestinians have underestimated Eilat's strategic importance. "We did not allow our soldiers (attack) this target – only rarely – because we did not have any knowledge regarding the importance of this target and the special place Eilat's port has in Israel's strategic outlook," he said.