The fallout from the terrorist attack near Eliat last Thursday continues to be felt. Israel retaliated for that attack that killed 8 by targeting Hamas training centers in Gaza. Hamas responded to the IDF raid by launching dozens of rockets over the weekend, killing one and wounding dozens.
And into this poisonous mix, there is the incident across the border in Egypt on Thursday where 5 Egyptian police were killed when they engaged the IDF who were in hot pursuit of the Eliat attackers.
The attack and subsequent diplomatic row over the border incident has the region in an uproar, as I point out in a FrontPage.com article today:
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said on Friday, "The border with Egypt is no longer a peaceful border and we need to change the way we treat it." Egypt denies claims that the terrorists infiltrated into Israel from the Sinai, and also scoffs at the notion that the border security has weakened in the region since the fall of Mubarak. Israel thinks that the Egyptian army doesn't see guarding the border with Israel as a top priority anymore. Indeed, attacks on the gas pipeline that supplies Israel and Jordan proves the Israeli's point. No doubt, the government will be forced to address this additional threat to Israel by beefing up security along the 250 mile-long border.
The deaths of the Egyptian policemen who engaged Israeli forces in hot pursuit of the terrorists has angered the Egyptian people and government. The Egyptian government threatened to recall its ambassador to Israel if the Israelis didn't apologize for the killings. Late Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a formal statement saying, "Israel is sorry for the deaths of Egyptian policemen during the attack along the Egyptian-Israeli border," while a foreign ministry spokesman said in another statement that "Israel expresses deep regret" over the incident. Barak also called for a joint investigation of the incident with the Egyptian military.
The Egyptian cabinet refused to accept the apologies because it was "not in keeping with the magnitude of the incident and the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions." But even though it appears Israel's statements of regret was rejected, there are conflicting reports whether or not the Egyptian ambassador has been recalled. The Israelis claim they have received no information from the Egyptian government that any kind of rupture was imminent.
Israel has lost the predictability and security that Mubarak's Egypt was able to offer - even on a limited basis. Soon, the Muslim Brotherhood may very well take power in Egypt and no one is sure that either predictability or security can ever be achieved with them.