Israel Slams Bombing of Gas Pipeline and Palestinian Reconciliation

Egypt Strongly Responds

With the first light of the dawn on Wednesday, April 27, Egypt witnessed yet another unusually turbulent day of post-Mubarak, open display of anti-Israel sentiments. Those sentiments have been long entrenched in the Egyptian psyche, though not primarily directed at the Israelis but fueled by the aggressive Israeli policy towards its Arab neighbors and above all by its ongoing criminal plan of the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population from their Arabic homeland.

The pro-democracy uprisings ripping through the heart of the Arab world, besides toppling dictators and corrupt regimes and aside from being a blatant display of western hypocritical Mideast policy, have been rare historical moments for people on the Arabic street to freely speak their minds and openly express their unrestrained opinions. After all, that what democracy is all about.

Once they managed to fully implement the famous slogan of the Egyptian uprising — “the people want the regime down” — Egyptians insisted the head of the regime along with his inner circle of corrupt aides and officials be put on trial and held accountable for all the crimes they committed against the Egyptian people — an unprecedented claim in Egypt’s long history.

The list of charges against Mubarak’s regime is a long one that included harming national interests, profiteering, selling government assets and public enterprises, squandering and wasting public money, and shooting peaceful protesters. But the deal of exporting Egypt natural gas to Israel that Mubarak himself endorsed back in 2005 stands at the top of the list.

The end of a deal.

Pro-Zionist Mubarak.

According to the crooked deal, Egypt is to sell its natural gas with a fixed price of $1.25 per million British thermal units (Btu) – while Global gas prices in the meantime jumped to $4 per million Btu- for 15 years.

Economists estimated that Egypt wasted at least $714 million in potential revenue from the deal to date, while independent analysts opposed to the deal put the number of losses much higher, up to $8 million per day.

The fervent Egyptian protests never lost momentum after the overthrow of Mubarak. Thousands of angry protesters kept coming back to Tahrir square Friday after Friday, venting their dissatisfaction over continuing to keep Mubarak and his gang of former politicians on the loose.

Finally, and to appease the enraged people specifically in regard to the gas deal, two previous oil ministers were arrested and face legal prosecution; Mubarak himself was indicted over the suspicious deal and held under detention.

That deal with Israel made every Egyptian feel personally affronted, not only because of the much needed millions of dollars that went right into the pocket of Mubarak and his Zionist friends, but also because of the audacious sale of Egypt’s national assets and pride to a formidable foe at such a cheap price.

It hurt Egyptian sensibility as it dishonored the memory of thousands of fine Egyptian soldiers who willingly gave their lives in the long military conflict with Israel defending their land.

Mr. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israeli minister of national infrastructure and Mr. Sameh Fahmy, Egypt petroleum minister at the signing ceremony of the natural gas deal.

When the January 25 revolution attacked the natural gas deal with Israel, a spotlight was cast on Egypt’s most controversial issues: post-Mubarak Egypt’s political fabric, corruption, and Israel.

Egypt has been a key player in the Arab-Israeli conflict since day one of its inauguration. It has engaged in 4 wars with Israel since 1948 till 1973 trying to hold back the Zionist military piracy, and signed a controversial peace treaty with Tel Aviv on 1979.

Mubarak, due to his 3 decades of dancing to the tunes of his Zionist allies in Israel, had transferred Egypt from the leader of the Arab camp to the pro-Zionist circus of puppets and drove the Egyptians into one of their ugliest tunnels of political inertia.

With Mubarak gone, and As Egypt was stripping itself of a long and shameful Zionist kippah, the country felt like it was emerging from this dark tunnel to the light for the first time. Egypt’s potential for engaging in the Middle East conflict had come back to life again.

Once the ruling autocratic party in Egypt was dissolved, the country’s political arena began to accommodate parties and groups of all political strata: socialists, leftists, liberals and of course the right wing represented by the Muslim brotherhood.

All Egyptian political blocks regardless of their background ideology agreed on one principle; the Egyptian-Israeli political relations should be conducted from an Arabic perspective that would serve both the Egyptian national security and interests while adhering to an Arabic agenda aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian thorny file.

But while nationalists, leftists, and liberal forces believed in conducting the Egyptian-Israeli tangled issues through open political dynamics, other parties due to their long history of covert operations and underground organization were inclined to tackle this in a way that only the Zionist machine in Israel are familiar with.

Scenario of the hot Wednesday

  • At dawn break, near the northern Sinai city of Arish, some 50 kilometers away from the Israeli border with Egypt, a group of 5 masked men drove away in a 4×4 car after they bombed the terminal of the pipeline that supplied Israel with 40% of its total requirement of natural gas utilized to generate 80% of its electricity.
  • Leaving the place after remotely detonating the bombs, the whole terminal went up in soaring flames, frightening the nearby residents and forcing the station’s safety department to completely shut down the feed of gas to Israel
  • There had been a couple of sabotage incidents aimed at the same pipeline station in the last two months, but compared to this seemingly professional and carefully carried out operation, they were nothing more than amateurish trials to leak out gas.
  • Later in the morning, for the first time, scores of Palestinian syndicate professionals — doctors, pharmacists, accountants, and free traders — protested at the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing point (the border checkpoint with Egypt) while raising the entwined flags of Egypt and Palestine, calling for an end to the siege long imposed on Gaza from the Egyptian side.
  • Before noon, hundreds of college students from Cairo University belonging to The Palestinian Revolution Supporters Group, The Islamic Work Party, Democratic Students, and Egyptians against Zionists broke out of the gates of the university and headed in a big march to the Israeli embassy. They burned the Israeli flag and called for the immediate halt of gas supply to Israel, chanting “Wake up Egypt, supplying Israel with our gas is a shame for all Egyptians.”
  • After a few hours, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said, “Though gas is one of the most important economic components of the peace treaty between the two countries signed in 1979, nevertheless, our government has to face up to the fact that Israel has to do without Egypt gas from now on.”

Following the sequence of events throughout this hot Wednesday, from the blast at the early hours of the morning to the protests in Cairo and Gaza reaching to the solemn statements of Mr. Landau in Tel Aviv, one could guess that certain elements from Hamas in Gaza — who now regard Sinai as an accessible operational field — in close cooperation with their Egyptian right wing counterparts of the Muslim brotherhood were responsible for this bombing of the gas line terminal in Arish and the protests on both sides.

But then, this would remain purely speculative, as long as nobody claimed responsibility for it.

The new middle east

Post-Mubarak Egyptian foreign policy is bound to show some major changes of strategy. And with a figure like Dr. Nabil el-Araby, Egypt’s new foreign minister, who doesn’t distance himself from his previous calls for Arab states to sue Israel for its atrocities committed against the Palestinians, Netanyahu unreluctantly expressed his concerns over Egypt’s newly evolving and apparently anti-Israeli politics.

As the night was falling on this hot Wednesday, the last hours were yet to reveal the biggest events of that day. And as the morning started with a blast so did the evening.

Fatah — the Palestinian political organization — has reached an agreement with its rival Hamas on forming an interim government and fixing a date for a general election,” Egyptian intelligence announced on Wednesday evening. And Cairo is to invite both parties, who agreed on all discussed points, to a signing ceremony to mark this historical Palestinian reconciliation.

This Egyptian–brokered deal, which came a few months before the expected UN vote on the recognition of Palestine as an independently sovereign state, infuriated the Israeli government which considered it crossing a red line, according to Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister.

However, as Mr.Landau had said earlier that Israel would have to do without Egypt’s natural gas so did Israeli prime minister Mr. Netanyahu, who declared in response that Israel would have to find herself another partner to carry on with in the Mideast peace talks.

On April 30th, in quick response to Netanyahu’s provocative statement, Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian Field Marshal, head of the supreme military council and the Egyptian interim government announced:

The latest Israeli threats to the Palestinian coalition government have enraged the Arab peoples, and they are totally unacceptable. He added that the Egyptian military council is to officially open the Rafah border crossing point with Gaza on permanent basis in the coming few days to alleviate the suffering of the besieged Palestinians living in Gaza.

What Mr. Netanyahu is unaware of is the fact that the revolting Arabs, as much as they reject both the Israeli-Egyptian natural gas deal and the Israeli inhuman blockade on Gaza, feel the same way about the Israeli-Palestinian so called peace talks.

The so called peace process has been nothing more than a disgusting and theatrically staged waste of time brokered by the United States to peacefully allow more Israeli settlements to be built and more of Palestinian land quietly annexed.

Israel will have to do without a whole much more than just Egypt’s natural gas in the future. The Arabs will certainly be crossing a lot of red lines in the coming days as they resketch the long advocated for new Middle East.

A new middle East is emerging, alright: the Arabic version.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat is a medical doctor who writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, ancient Near Eastern history, comparative religion, and politics, especially the Arab- Israeli conflict. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Ashraf, or visit Ashraf's website.