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Today’s Top Stories
1. Egypt’s responding to yesterday’s terror with a vengeance. The Rafah border crossing with Gaza is indefinitely closed while Reuters reports that security personnel are vigorously sealing up smuggling tunnels:
A Reuters reporter in the border town of Rafah said heavy equipment was brought to the area near the tunnels, which are used to smuggle people to and from Gaza but also food and fuel that are a lifeline for the territory’s population.
“The campaign aims at closing all the openings between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that are used in smuggling operations,” said the security source.
Hamas denounced it all as collective punishment.
2. The Lede points out that rebel gains are making it easier for Western journalists to report from Aleppo. Bottom line: Assad has lost the monopoly of info:
In just the past few days, reporters like Javier Espinosa of El Mundo, Martin Chulov of The Guardian, Hadeel Al Shalchi of Reuters and Ben Wedeman of CNN have offered vivid descriptions of the battle for Aleppo. Farther south, barely three miles from the presidential palace in Damascus, Paul Wood and Fred Scott of the BBC filed a remarkable video report on Monday, showing young rebels training on the outskirts of the capital.
When he finally called on me, I asked, “Jay what city does this Administration consider to be the Capital of Israel?” Many of my colleagues laughed nervously, knowing that was a “third rail question.” Jay tried to move on, insisting I knew the answer. I said several times I did not. Then another reporter joined the fray, and became loud and dramatic. So Jay moved onto another topic, and I never had a chance to ask a series of follow up questions. But the incident hit the web, and appeared on a number of sites within hours . . .
The next day, Friday, Jay took a step that only a decent man would take. He joked he “wanted to start with the tough questions, but he did not see Connie here, adding, “she got me yesterday.” I was not there, because I was still filing on an event which happened an hour earlier — the president’s signing of a new U.S.-Israeli Security Agreement. But several of my colleagues did ask follow up questions. The standard answer given was long-standing U.S. policy — that Jerusalem is part of the Final Status talks, to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Gaza-Sinai Terror Ties
• Care to guess who Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood blamed for yesterday’s terror? Hint: It’s a Jewish state whose name rhymes with Fizrael:
A spokesman for the Hamas government claimed the attack was an Israeli “attempt to tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge between the Egyptians and the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
• YNet reports that Hamas fears Egyptian military retaliation:
. . . the incident – which prompted massive deployment of the Egyptian military in the area, including the rare sight of helicopter gunships – underscored the complexity of the relationship between Hamas and the Salafi organizations based in Gaza; organizations that often defy Hamas’ rule.
Hamas knows that any incident involving global jihadists that can be traced back to Gaza would bring about an image problem as best – but an all out retaliation by Israel or Egypt at worst . . . .
Hamas too finds it easier to say that the recent bout of Sinai terror attacks have nothing to do with Gaza. That all ended on Sunday night.
The brutal slaying of Egyptian soldiers has resulted in a growing call to retaliate against Gaza if need be, as well as to increase the monitoring of the Rafah crossing and the tunnels.
• More commentary/analysis worth reading:
- The Guardian (yes) on Israel’s security dilemma.
- YNet on the jihadists’ goal: sparking an Israel-Egypt war.
- The Wall Street Journal and a Washington Post staff-ed on US leverage to take back the Sinai.
- The NY Times on the game-changer in Morsi-Israel relations.
- Time magazine on whether the rogue region can be reined in.
- The Jerusalem Post on Israel’s intelligence black hole.
• LA Times reporter Jeffrey Fleishman visits Bedouin tribesman in the Sinai:
There’s a rise in “these extremist organizations. They may be associated with Al Qaeda, but only God knows,” said Arafat Khedr Soliman, a tribal leader whose window looks out to the Israeli border. “But their mentality is the same. They think everyone other than them is an infidel. They want their own Islamic state.”
• Gazans tell the Christian Science Monitor that Hamas hasn’t done enough to police the Gaza-Egypt border:
“Everyone well knows that those radical Islamists have influence in Sinai and that they move freely on both sides using the tunnels that are controlled by Hamas. Hamas should have got rid of them long ago because now they are harming their own interests,” Mr. Sa’ad says.
• Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg comments on Egyptian anti-Semitism:
Anti-Semitism, the socialism of fools, is becoming the opiate of the Egyptian masses. And not just the masses. Egypt has never been notably philo-Semitic (just ask Moses), but today it’s entirely acceptable among the educated and creative classes there to demonize Jews and voice the most despicable anti- Semitic conspiracy theories. Careerists know that even fleeting associations with Jews and Israelis could spell professional trouble.