Early last week Israeli warplanes carried out three raids on the Gaza Strip following rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants. The rocket attacks came after six Palestinians were killed and five others injured in a series of air strikes across the coastal strip. While this series of attacks was the first in the region since March this year, it has renewed tension in this war-torn region. Recent reports of Hamas militants entering Israel from Egypt through the Gaza Strip appear to confirm suspicions that Egypt has been harbouring Hamas operatives and equipping them in their fight against the Israeli settlement.
And now the election of Mohammed Morsi to the Egyptian presidency will be cause for even greater concern for Israel, due to the Hamas-Egypt connection. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist political party governing the Gaza Strip, was originally formed out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and is currently celebrating the election victory of the Brotherhood’s Morsi. The future political situation of Egypt is thus vitally important to the future of Israel, as well as to all Christians and Muslims in the Middle East. For Christians, Egypt is the ‘gateway’ to the Arab world, allowing access to 24 neighbouring countries that share a common language and culture. For Muslims, Egypt is seen to be the brain of Islam, while Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the heart.
But for Israel, there is another critical factor involved. In 1979, Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel, thereby becoming the first Muslim country to recognise Israel as an independent nation. With the recent Muslim Brotherhood victory, many are wondering whether a peace agreement signed 33 years ago will deter the Islamists from providing full-blown support for Hamas against the Israelis.
Israel’s many allies and US backing will also be of some deterrent against the Egyptian backing of Hamas against Israel.
But if America gets more involved in Egyptian-Israeli affairs, Christians in Egypt are likely to suffer, as Christianity is always seen to be Western and American.