Since I wrote about last week’s Eilat/Gaza violence, I’ve read several news articles that report on increasing evidence that the Eilat attackers actually came from Egypt/Sinai and not Gaza.
From a +972 post by Yossi Gurvitz last week:
Yesterday evening the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported that Egyptian security forces have identified three of the dead attackers. Egypt has a strong interest to claim the attackers were Gazans, since this would lessen its responsibility for the attacks; nevertheless, they say at least two of the attackers were known terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. As far as I could find out, the rest of the bodies are in the hands of the IDF – which, again, does not reveal their identity.
This story has also been covered extensively by blogger Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam, and more recently, by Amira Hass, writing for Ha’aretz. (Most of the mainstream media has, not surprisingly, long since moved on from this one.)
For an astute analysis of this whole tragic mess, I highly recommend Paul Woodward’s piece in War in Context:
As for those who have an interest in evidence, rather than taking comfort in deeply ingrained prejudice, the evidence suggests that the men who attacked Israelis yesterday and Egyptians today are in conflict with both states. More than likely, this has much less to do with Gaza or the Palestinian national cause than it has with the aspirations of radical groups based in the Sinai.
Those responsible for maintaining Israel’s security quickly claimed they knew exactly who was behind yesterday’s attacks in Eilat and duly dispatched the Israeli air force to rain down missiles on Gaza. No one explained why, if Israeli intelligence was so good, they had not prevented the attacks. Even so, the domestically perceived legitimacy of a security state depends less on its ability to thwart terrorism than its willingness to make a timely show of force. Indeed, the occasional tragedy has obvious political utility. The attacks in Eilat serve to remind Israelis that the state created as a safe haven for Jews can only remain safe so long as everyone remains afraid.
In the meantime, Israel’s assault against Gaza still continues. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights:
In the early morning of Thursday, 25 August 2011, two Palestinian civilians were killed and 25 others, including 11 children and 7 women, were wounded as Israeli warplanes bombarded a sports club in a densely-populated area in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. The attack resulted extensive damages to dozens of neighboring houses and facilities. On Wednesday, 24 August 2011, an elderly farmer and a worker were killed and four civilians were wounded, while three other persons are missing inside a tunnel at the Egyptian border due to an Israeli air strike against the tunnels.
It is looking increasingly likely that this latest violence has more to do with Israel-Egypt relations than Gaza. Is anyone asking why, then, is it largely Gazans who are paying the price?