Fighting the Brotherhood: Egypt Allowed, Israel Not

We’re all familiar with the cycle by now. Hamas launches rockets indiscriminately into Israeli neighborhoods. Israel exhibits an absurd level of tolerance until a breaking point is reached. Attacks on Hamas by the Israelis are met with international pressure that includes mainstream media’s portrayal of Israel as the bully and Hamas as the victim. When this happens, it steals the headlines until Israel backs off, which they always seem to do.

Imagine the headline if the Cop was an Israeli (photo via the Guardian)

Imagine the headline if the Cop was an Israeli (photo via the Guardian)

However, when Egypt does it, there’s barely a peep in the media.

The good news? Actually, that’s good news by itself but it would seem that Egypt and Israel have found common cause – to a greater degree than before – in opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. In this video report from Press TV, one gets a sense of how intolerant the new Egyptian government is of Hamas (Muslim Brotherhood).

Just last week, it was reported that the tunnels that are used to smuggle terrorists and weapons into and out of Gaza / Egypt, have become increasingly empty.

Via ABC / AP:

Since the summer, Egypt’s military has tried to destroy or seal off most of the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, a consequence of the heightened tensions between Cairo and the Hamas government in Gaza.

In July, Egypt’s military brought down the country’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, in a popularly-backed coup and cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. The military accused Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, of fomenting unrest in Egypt and moved to shut down the border tunnels, citing security reasons. {emphasis ours}

To be clear, Mubarak’s government worked with Israel on border blockades as well but after a taste of Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt, the people in that country – and the military by extension – appear far less tolerant.

Last week, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Egyptian military was planning strikes in Gaza if the attacks in the Sinai peninsula didn’t stop. Again, this would indicate that Egypt’s beef with Hamas isn’t all that dissimilar from Israel’s:

The Egyptian army has planned military attacks on specific targets in the Gaza Strip in the event that the security situation in the northern Sinai peninsula deteriorates, a senior Egyptian security official told the Ma’an news agency.

The source said that Egyptian reconnaissance planes had photographed the potential targets.

According to intelligence sources, the Egyptian Army would attack from the air.

The plan to attack targets in Gaza is based on the Egyptian assessment that some of the attacks in the northern Sinai, especially in El Arish and in Rafah were carried out by armed Palestinians based in Gaza. {emphasis ours}

In an article on the World Bulletin website, Egypt is accused of attacking Palestinian fishermen:

The Egyptian army expressed that it started its operations in the eastern Sinai Peninsula in late June. Since then, it has destroyed more than 440 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. According to estimation of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are only ten tunnels now operating. There used to be at least 300 operating tunnels prior to the clamp-down.

Under a stiffing Israeli and Egyptian blockade, the tunnels are the main commercial trade routes in and out of the Gaza Strip. Besides, they are the only way in or out that does not go through Israel, which heavily restricts crossings. According to the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing, signed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel in 2005, Gaza could be able to have formal trade relationship with the Egyptian side, but this deal was frozen when Hamas began to govern Gaza in 2006. Egyptian discourse on the tunnels is that they are a security problem for Egypt because they enable the smuggling of weapons and drugs, and militants to Sinai. The Hamas government has strongly denied that the tunnels were being used to provide a passage for the armed militants.

Gaza fishermen also heavily suffer from the hardships created Israeli and Egyptian authorities.

The restriction by Israeli navy on Gaza fishermen that restricts them from traveling more than six miles from shore severely limits their ability to catch fishes in sufficient quantities. Egypt used to allow fishermen to enter its waters. Nevertheless, within the last month, Egyptian navy began to arrest and injure Palestinian fishermen. They even damage fishermen’s fishing boats. {emphasis ours}

Amidst all of this is a dynamic that can be quite confusing. This weekend, a military celebration of the 40th anniversary of its war with Israel turned into clashes between the military and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Again, the military certainly got the better of it as at least 50 were killed and hundreds wounded.

Via Sky News (h/t BNI):

Journalist Bel Trew, in Cairo, told Sky News the military had been expecting the unrest and described seeing “chaotic side street clashes with lots of gunfire and tear gas”.

She added: “There’s quite a lot of anger here toward the Morsi supporters by local residents and those who wanted to go to the streets to celebrate their military on this day that Egyptians regard as one of the most proud moments of their history. {emphasis ours}

On one hand, the anger of Egyptians toward the Brotherhood is quite clear. The reason for this anger is quite similar to why Israel has a problem with the Brotherhood. On the other hand, these Egyptians were there to celebrate war with Israel.

Usually, as the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, in Egypt, that doesn’t seem to apply relative to Israel. Despite Egypt’s new government and Israel having a common enemy and a common cause, Israel is apparently still despised. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Egypt’s new government is able to continue its crackdown on the Brotherhood amidst a largely silent mainstream media.

Nonetheless, the political will of Egypt to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood has not abated. In fact, one year of Muslim Brotherhood rule appears to have kicked that will into overdrive.


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