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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

EU Gaza border monitors threatened

Remember when Israel agreed, under US pressure, to let the EU monitor the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt?

From JPost:
Fearing for their lives, European Union monitors stationed at the Rafah Crossing that connects the Gaza Strip and Egypt have asked the defense establishment for help in drawing up escape routes from Gaza in the event of an attack on the border terminal, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The monitors, led by Italian Maj.-Gen. Pietro Pistolese, have raised concerns in recent weeks for their safety following a series of threats to their lives. An Israeli defense official told the Post that several weeks ago a large bomb was discovered on a route used by the monitors to drive through Gaza.

Later this week, the head of the Defense Ministry's Military-Diplomatic Bureau, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, is scheduled to sign an agreement that will extend the monitoring team's mandate by another year. It was initially signed following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

The increasing threats against the monitors have raised concerns in Israel that the EU would refuse to extend the monitors' mandate, leaving the Gaza-Egyptian border completely open. Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem rejected this possibility and said the agreement would be signed in the coming days as planned.

A military source close to Ashkenazi confirmed, however, that this scenario was raised during the meeting last week between the two chiefs of staff. The spokeswoman for the monitors, Maria Telleria, said Monday night that she had heard rumors of a plan to pull the team out of Rafah, but that there was nothing concrete.
There are a large number of analogies between computer security and physical security. And a couple of security rules here have been broken by Israel.

First of all, you never outsource your security to a third party that cares less about your security, or does a poorer job enforcing security, than you do yourself. Everyone knew from the outset that the EU monitors were not going to really do anything effective, that they would remain as passive monitors rather than security enforcers. In fact, they do not have a mandate to even detain people with suspicious packages (they can just request that a PA officer checks the packages.)

And secondly, security enforcement points must "fail closed." In computer terms, if a firewall should fail for any reason it should not allow traffic through. Otherwise, people will attack the firewall itself.

So far, Rafah has held to this model - in the numerous times that the EU monitors needed to flee for their safety (the first time was only a month after they started), the crossing was closed, much to the consternation of "human rights" organizations who have no problem with smuggling weapons into Gaza. But now it looks like it is possible that the EU will abandon Rafah and leave it open.

Now that this is a possibility, all the terrorists in Gaza have a great incentive to directly attack the EU monitors - a much easier and cheaper alternative than digging more tunnels or opening their own holes in the border. The monitors have now become the weakest link in Israel's security.

And this was entirely predictable.