Last Monday I asked ‘Will Israel invade the Egyptian Sinai?’ and I suggested that if the revolution in Egypt progressed such that the Israelis saw it as a threat from their point of view then they might consider invading and occupying at least the eastern Sinai to create a buffer zone between itself and Egypt and, in particular, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Well, the situation certainly has deteriorated as far as the Israeli are concerned in the Sinai to the extent that Bedouin Arabs in the Sinai, who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause in the Gaza Strip, have attacked the Egyptian security police in the Sinai in El Arish, a town close to the border with the Gaza Strip. This has left the Bedouin free to continue to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip; a development the Israelis are unlikely to tolerate.
Rather than fight the Israelis in order to prevent invasion and occupation of the eastern Sinai, the Egyptian Mubarak government are, in the current set of circumstances, likely to welcome the Israelis in taking control of that part the Egyptian region having virtually lost control of it themselves. How the Egyptian army respond to an Israeli invasion and occupation of the eastern Sinai is not known. However, the anti-Mubarak revolutionaries are likely to protest loudly but would be able to do little about it in the short term.
As Mubarak himself slowly loses his grip on power, Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s vice-President, seems favoured to take over government if Mubarak does go. Suleiman is fully supported by the US and Israel though is loathed and despised by the people of Egypt almost as much as Mubarak is so, even if Mubarak does go now, the Egyptian people are going to be in exactly the same situation when Suleiman takes over as they are now. Given that, the Israelis may consider an occupation of the eastern Sinai in order to create a buffer zone well worth the effort.