Cairo -

"The Battle of the Age" This is how the late Egyptian historian Younan Labib Rizk described the exciting battle that Egypt fought to recover the Taba area in the Sinai Peninsula from the Israeli occupation.

Although this area at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba does not exceed an area of ​​one square kilometer, it broke into the gates of history and occupied a prominent place in the record of the Egyptian-Israeli conflict, and was the subject of a legal and diplomatic conflict that lasted for several years and ended with international arbitration in favor of Cairo.

The battle - which ended on March 19, 1989 with the raising of the Egyptian flag on the land of Taba - showed the importance of historical, legal and geographical documents, and that a word written here, a picture taken there, or a map attached to a book or even a postal stamp, can represent strong evidence for restoring rights to their owners. .

The beginning of the crisis

In late 1981, with the approaching deadline for the complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, which was scheduled for April 25, 1982, according to the peace agreement signed between the two parties in 1979, or what is known in the media as Camp David, the usual Israeli delays began to appear, and it became clear that the occupation was seeking to devour some Egyptian regions, including Taba.

Taba is located at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba within the South Sinai Governorate, in a unique geographical location, 7 miles from the Israeli city of Eilat (formerly Umm Al-Rarash), facing the Saudi military base of Tabuk and opposite the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Sharp disputes began to escalate between Egypt and Israel regarding the locations of 14 border signs, the most important of which was the location of Mark 91, which is the last border sign on the border strip in Taba. fact.

resort to arbitration

Egypt decided that it would not give up an inch of the land of Sinai, and the negotiations that lasted for years with the Israeli side failed to reach a solution, so Egypt decided to resort to international arbitration to retrieve Taba, which was rejected by Israel until it was forced to submit to it in 1986.

Egypt prepared its preparations in the legal battle with a team of 25 of the most prominent competencies in law, history, geography and surveying, without any attempt to monopolize the issue by any institution in the state, and it was noticeable that the military representation in the Egyptian delegation before the arbitral tribunal was very limited, as it included only two of the military.

The Egyptian team spared no effort in tracking down every document or information related to the Taba case (Al-Jazeera).

Documentation Marathon

“It is not through the law alone that border cases are won,” important advice provided by the lawyers in the Egyptian team to their fellow experts in their first meeting, stressing that their success depends on the material evidence provided by these experts.

In light of this fact, the Egyptian team worked to track down every document related to the case and search for any information or word that proves Egypt’s right to its land and refutes the Israeli allegations, which historian Yonan Labib Rizk describes in his book “Taba, the Case of the Age” as the longest documentary marathon in the history of border issues. .

The evidence presented by the Egyptian team to the court varied and included historical documents - which took the lead - maps, natural models, network coordinates, writings of contemporaries, field visits to areas of conflict and remnants of border columns, as well as witness testimonies.

Rizk indicates that the Egyptian team used about 29 maps in its first memorandum submitted in May 1987, to prove its border points and Taba's subordination to Egyptian sovereignty, compared to only 6 maps provided by Israel to support its alleged right.

The maps presented by Cairo included Egyptian (6 maps), British (4 maps), Palestinian (4 maps), and Israeli (10 maps at once), along with a variety of maps, including a map of the League of Nations, a map of the US State Department, and other maps from the United Nations. .

Anecdotes of evidence

The battle was not without amusing evidence that played a role in confirming the Egyptianness of Taba, including postage stamps and stamps.

According to the account of Mufid Shehab, the former Minister of Higher Education and a member of the Egyptian legal team for the restoration of Taba, Ismail Sherine, the last minister of war during the reign of King Farouk, who was the commander of the Egyptian battalion in Taba, volunteered to testify before the International Court that considers arbitration procedures.

Shehab adds that Sherine submitted official letters he sent to his wife and family from Taba, and responses to those letters were sent to him there, and that postage stamps and stamps confirm this, noting that his testimony increased the court's conviction of Egypt's right to its occupied lands, according to what the writer Helmy al-Numnam reported. In the article "Ismail Sherine... A Lesson in Nationalism".

In his book "The Corridors of Politics and the Backstage of Diplomacy", Mostafa El-Feki, the current head of the Library of Alexandria and former Secretary of Information for the late President Hosni Mubarak, mentions that Ismail Sherine also presented a map confirming Egypt's right to restore its land in Taba.

Prince Ismail Sherine, husband of King Farouk's sister, and the last minister of war during his reign who volunteered to testify in the Taba case (communication sites)

Among the other interesting and important evidence presented by the Egyptian memorandum and transmitted by Younan Rizk in his book;

A copy of the concession granted by the Egyptian government to the (Anglo-Egyptian) Petroleum Company, affiliated with Shell, during the year 1921-1922, to carry out oil exploration work in the Sinai in the area adjacent to the Gulf of Aqaba up to the 1906 line, and a sketch is attached to it showing these areas.

A picture of the English governor of Sinai, Parker Bey, in 1906, also played a major role in the case, as Parker appears based on the border sign 91, which is the most prominent point of conflict between Egypt and Israel in this case.

After a long and exciting legal struggle, the international arbitral tribunal held in Geneva on September 29, 1988, supported Egypt's position regarding most of the disputed border signs, so that the ownership of Taba and Ras al-Naqab returned to Egypt.

After the ruling, Israel tried to procrastinate again and sought to obtain any gains related to the region, such as continuing to enter the Israelis without passports and allowing them to use Israeli currencies, which Egypt refused, and then Israel was forced to withdraw later by March 15, 1989, but it got 37 million One dollar for the hotel she set up in Taba.

Blessed contradiction

Despite the late President Hosni Mubarak's interest in the issue of reclaiming Taba and his strong statements about the Israelis' delay in withdrawing, he had a negative attitude towards the team that succeeded in regaining Egyptian land, during the celebration of raising the Egyptian flag in the land of Taba on March 19, 1989.

In his book "Taba, Camp David, the Separation Wall.. The Diplomacy Conflict from the Security Council to the International Court", Nabil El-Araby, the former Secretary-General of the Arab League and head of the Egyptian delegation in the Taba case, mentions that during the celebration Mubarak was scheduled to salute and thank the team Who made every effort to preserve the soil of the homeland.

Al-Araby adds that while Mubarak was heading to them, the late actor Farid Shawqi called him, and there was actress Yousra and actor Hisham Selim next to him. "The Case of the Age".