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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Multi-National Force Might Take Over Philadelphi Route

National Security Advisor Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland said today that in the event of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, it is likely that an international force would take over the strategic route along the Israeli-Egyptian border separating Egypt from Gaza. He made the remarks at an appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The route, known as the Philadelphi Route, is the scene of much arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. Over 100 tunnels have been discovered in the course of the past four years - many more have gone undiscovered - through which have flowed tremendous amounts of arms, explosives and ammunitions, used by Arab terrorists in attacks against Israel. Many Israeli officials have accused Egypt of turning a blind eye to the phenomenon.

The estimated amounts of arms and explosives smuggled in to Gaza over the past four years are: 2,000 kilograms of explosives, 6,700 Kalachnikov rifles (including 5,000 since 2003), 750 anti-tank shell launchers, 33 mortars, 18 submachine guns, 5 anti-aircraft missiles, 580,000 bullets, and dozens of RPG bombs.

MK Yuval Shteinitz, who Chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said recently that the Egyptians continue to allow arms-smuggling to Gaza because they are interested in the continuation of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs of Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Gen. Eiland said that the military has considered retaining control of the Philadelphi Route event in the event of a withdrawal from Gaza. He said, however, that the concern that the soldiers would simply be a target of terrorists from both south and north would probably tip the scales in favor of a withdrawal from the area.

Asked what would happen to the houses in Gush Katif in the event of a withdrawal, Eiland said that they would be destroyed. Sharon made the same decision regarding the homes in northern Sinai 22 years ago, and later said that he regretted it.

Committee member MK Uri Ariel said afterwards, 'We learned that what is being planned is not a disengagement, and not half of a disengagement. We will remain responsible for the Arab population, and we will remain responsible for security, and we [may] remain in the Philadelphi Route. So what is Sharon talking about when he says we're leaving Gaza? It's merely cruelty against Jews, nothing more.'