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Israel: Bloggers Eye Gaza as Egypt Unrest Spreads through Sinai

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

This is a summary of Israeli perspectives, blog posts, and media shared online over the last two days, in reaction to the unrest in Egypt. Referenced by Israeli sources as the ‘Egypt Intifada’, bloggers are looking closely at the spread of the violence into Sinai and the possibility of igniting violence in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

The recent JCPA post by Zvi Mazael describes Tunisia's domino effect and its spread in the region:

Egypt has a strong and stable government. Every political analyst starts with those words. This is true until the circumstances change, and they have. We are seeing a wholly new condition in Egypt and the Arab world. Tunisia's domino effect is alive and kicking. Tunisia's people's revolution is spreading like fire in a thorn field through the region.

Tzvi continues, describing the hesitant Egyptian opposition:

The large opposition parties have not called out to join the demonstrations and have not backed them. The Muslim Brotherhood announced that “a few of their leaders” will participate in riots in a symbolic way. It is known that the Egyptian security forces have warned the Brotherhood's leaders around the country from calling their supporters to join the riots. However it seems like the Muslim Brotherhood leadership is motivated by a different set of considerations, and estimate that it is not yet time to confront the leadership.

How does all this affect Israel and the US? Tzvi writes:

What does this mean for Israel and the USA, who have been worriedly following the turn of events, and are fearing for the stability of Egypt? It is still difficult to predict.
With that, it is important to state that up until now, neither Israel nor the USA have been mentioned in the demonstrations. Egyptians took the streets for democracy, human rights and to improve their living conditions. A new gov't will need to make economic and social reforms. American support will be more necessary than ever.
Additionally, there's no reason for Egypt to harm the existing peace agreement with Israel. I may be wrong, but it is without a doubt that the Tunisian revolution changed the Arab world. We will see the outcomes in the upcoming months.

The popular forum site, rotter.net, has been hosting a number of discussions about the events in Egypt.
As the fighting in the Sinai Peninsula spreads, an unconfirmed post claims protesters have taken over gov't facilities in Northern Sinai:

The link mentioned in the Tweet above, hosts a conversation describing the possibility that riots may fuel an uprising in Gaza:

Spread of the riots into sinai can bring the fire of demonstrations into the Gaza strip. Hamas might be tempted to think that it can help the people in their resistance towards the central gov't. It is also possible that terrorists operating under Al-Quaeda will try to send armed forces to operate in Sinai to add to the chaos in Egypt. I have no doubt that in this case, the Egyptians will react mercilessly. It it clear to them and to Hamas.
Hamas will allow itself to operate only if it is sure that the Egyptian wheel has turned, and that the gov't is dying.

In that same forum thread, a number of users portray their thoughts:

If he'd use even a little bit of the force that his army is capable of, the demonstrations would have stopped. I'm not trying to discount the riots, but only when the army switches to the opposition, will it be the beginning of the end of Egypt's current regime.
We're not there yet.

Another post describes recent actions the Egyptian religion ministry has taken in preparation for tomorrow's planned demonstrations:

- the religion ministry will postpone the Friday prayers to Sunday
– the Egyptian gov't is planning to disconnect internet connectivity in the whole of Egypt if the situation deteriorates tomorrow
– unverified information states Mubarak has taken command over the Egyptian security forces. In preparation for tomorrow he commanded that the army is ready to replace police forces across cities in Egypt.
– Egyptian gov't ordered media blackout tomorrow. Communications, water and electricity will be shut off.

Video footage posted on the Israeli video sharing site flix:

Two Israelis on holiday in Egypt who were caught in the heat of events reported by +972 Magazine:

When we suggested to an Egyptian friend affected by teargas that he buy onions and use it to diminish the affect of the gas, as we do in Israel and the Occupied Territories, he laughed. He then explained his salary is about 300 Egyptian pounds, and one kilo of onions is three pounds.
We got back to our hotel after being at the demonstrations all through the day. During the night, we could hear the protest continuing – people screaming and police vehicles driving through the streets.
This morning we woke up to find  the streets were quiet and full of policemen, but the Facebook page of the anti-government movement was very much alive.

We would be lying if we said we did not envy the Egyptian people: Seeing masses of people out on the streets to protest for what they believe in is something we, as Israelis, can only dream of now. And it is truly frightening to think that similar masses of Israelis will act only when have experienced the levels of oppression and rage that people are experiencing here.

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

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