PM Sharon on the IDF action in Rafah: Effort to stop smuggling of weapons by the Palestinians
In response to a question from a journalist regarding the IDF action in Rafah, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon replied:
"Israel has decided to make every effort to stop smuggling of weapons by the Palestinians. A major effort has been made by the Palestinian Authority to smuggle weapons across all our borders: weapons that are coming from Iran – that we have seen just recently; weapons that are smuggled from Sinai into Rafah and from there to the Palestinian Authority; weapons smuggled from Iraq via Jordan, although Jordan is taking all the steps to prevent it, and then across the Dead Sea; weapons smuggled by the Hizbullah in Lebanon to the Fatah organization. That has become a very dangerous development.
In Rafah, the system is to smuggle through tunnels, and these tunnels are deep – from 12 to 18 meters. Israel has to take all the necessary steps to stop that smuggling of weapons. I can assure you that, as I said to the Cabinet this morning, there must be a real solution there. I think that we have to discuss it with the Palestinians. No doubt the narrow corridor that we have there does not allow us to stop it. Maybe there should be a more basic and serious solution there – maybe by paying for some land around there, to widen the corridor in order to stop the smuggling.
Israel decided to stop the smuggling of weapons by the Palestinian Authority, and we have to find the best way to do it. I know it’s hard, it’s complicated, but I think that as a result of the smuggling, not only the Israelis suffer – the Palestinians suffer. We have to find a way how to do it. Maybe the complaints should be to the Palestinian Authority that allows the smuggling of weapons there. Most of those buildings were empty, and covered the tunnels which were dug inside those buildings.
This government, which is ready to make painful compromises for genuine, durable, true peace, will not make any compromise whatever – not now and not in the future – when it comes to the security of the Israeli citizens and the very existence of the State of Israel."
||IDF Spokesman photos of equipment found near one of the tunnels – Jan 12, 2002|
||Findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah – IDF Spokesman, Jan 27, 2002|