The suicide bombing in Eilat yesterday, which killed three Israelis, should raise some serious questions about Egypt's unwillingness, or inability, to combat terror.
Based on their initial investigations, Israeli authorities now say that the Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack had infiltrated into Israel from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai peninsula.
Last year alone, in 2006, Israel is said to have captured over 100 Palestinian terrorists who tried to sneak in from Sinai. These included suicide bombers, weapons experts and other terrorists plotting to carry out various types of attacks. All this took place right under the nose of the Egyptians.
Moreover, Egypt has allowed Palestinian terrorists a free hand in smuggling weapons, personnel and funds into Gaza, essentially ignoring Israeli protests and pleas.
And in the past 30 months, there have been three Al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks in Sinai aimed at Israeli and foreign tourists – the October 2004 bombings in Taba and Ras Shitan, the July 2005 attack in Sharm el-Sheikh, and the April 2006 bombings in Dahab – which left 120 people killed.
It is hard to say whether these failures signify Egyptian malice or incompetence, or a combination of the two.
But one thing is clear: despite receiving $2 billion in American aid each year, Egypt is hardly doing anything to stop the territory under its control from turning into a base of anti-Israel and anti-Western terror.
And for that alone, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should be called to account. Instead of heaping smiles and praise on him, as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did during her visit to the region a few weeks ago, it is time for Washington and Jerusalem to turn up the heat on the Egyptian autocrat, and send him a clear and unequivocal message: crack down on the terrorists who are turning Egypt and Sinai into a base of operations.