Two Game Changers
By Yoram Getzler for israelseen.com It’s not often that truly game changing events or statements disturb the peaceful quiet of the Middle-East. But this month there were two major ones.
The first occurred about two weeks ago. In an effort to reassure its neighbors and the Security Council that it would not use its stock of chemical weapons on its own citizens the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi assured the world community that Syria would use its chemical weapons only in the case of an attack on Syria by foreign armies. And so, we have for the first time since the 1970′s an official admit ion that Syria indeed has chemical weapons. Up until now they have duplicated the Israeli ambiguity policy.
The second game changer came this week, (yesterday Aug 6th) when a Jihad i force in Sinai attacked an Egyptian security post, killing fifteen Egyptian police. Then the attackers stole two Egyptian APC police vehicles and drove them into the Karem Shalom border terminal (where Egypt, Israel and Gaza meet). One of the Fahad APC’s exploded at the terminal. The other was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in a remarkable and swift response.
One reason for the response being so speedy was advanced intelligence indicating a possible attack. The game changer is for the Israelis at the border, they can no longer look with equanimity when an Egyptian military vehicle approaches the crossing or any other part of the border. Up until now the relations between the two forces facing each other across the southern border has been cool but correct. In all the years of the Israel Egyptian peace accords there have been remarkably few incidents between Israeli and Egyptian personnel. Most Israelis tell of being asked for food and or water by the Egyptian security forces rather than being attacked by them
But now…who knows? For the Israeli security forces, an Egyptian military vehicle approaching could just as well be an attack, or just a friendly meeting of cross border security colleagues one requesting water from the other.
Now we have simple trust being put to the test. How tragic how unnecessary.
I would hate to be in the position of needing to decide in a split second if to smile or shoot. The consequences of a mistake could be personally fatal or even a full scale war.