Egypt moves to stem Si­nai chaos

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER Is­raelis have been warned not to travel to Si­nai

IN AN at­tempt to end the grow­ing an­ar­chy in the Si­nai Penin­sula, Egypt be­gan a ma­jor mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion this week to root out the Is­lamist ter­ror­ists who have been op­er­at­ing in the area.

The Egyp­tian op­er­a­tion was co-or­di­nated with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment, as is re­quired by the peace ac­cord be­tween the two coun­tries.

Un­der the treaty, Egypt is al­lowed to po­si­tion only a lim­ited num­ber of se­cu­rity forces in Si­nai. This time, how­ever, Is­rael ap­proved a much larger force which in­cludes 2000 sol­diers and ar­moured ve­hi­cles.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Is­raeli source, “We had no trou­ble al­low­ing this be­cause the Egyp­tian mil­i­tary is fully co-or­di­nated with us and it is in Is­rael’s in­ter­ests that they fight the ter­ror­ist groups work­ing in Si­nai.”

Fol­low­ing the revo­lu­tion in Cairo that de­posed ex-pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak in Fe­bru­ary, there has been grow­ing un­rest in Si­nai, with Bedouin tribes, op­er­at­ing with im­punity near the Gaza cross­ing, smuggling weapons and other goods into the Pales­tinian side.

At­tempts by the Egyp­tian se­cu­rity forces to pre­vent the smuggling have been re­buffed and the Is­raeli se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment is con­cerned that arms ship­ments to Ha­mas and other Pales­tinian ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tions in Gaza have in­ten­si­fied.

The civil war in neigh­bour­ing Libya has also con­trib­uted to the amount of mil­i­tary equip­ment in Si­nai: weapons plun­dered from aban­doned Libyan army de­pots have found their way into Egypt. The Is­raeli Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil has is­sued a num­ber of stern warn­ings to Is­raelis not to travel into Si­nai as there is a clear and present dan­ger of at­tacks and kid­nap­ping.

An­other re­sult of the wors­en­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Si­nai has been the re­peated sab­o­tage of the pipe­line which pumps Egyp­tian nat­u­ral gas to power sta­tions in Is­rael.

There have been five at­tacks on the pipe­line in the past six months. As a re­sult, Is­raeli power sta­tions have been forced to run for long pe­ri­ods on more ex­pen­sive and less en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly sources of en­ergy. The Egyp­tian Army had al­ready re­in­forced its se­cu­rity forces in Si­nai by two bat­tal­ions, with Is­raeli au­tho­ri­sa­tion. The de­ci­sion to po­si­tion a much larger force in the area and to go on the of­fen­sive was taken af­ter Is­lamist groups, call­ing them­selves “Al Qaida in Si­nai”, be­gan to op­er­ate openly in the penin­sula.

Last month, the Al Qaida af­fil­i­ate group at­tacked a po­lice sta­tion in the town of El Ar­ish on the Mediter­ranean coast, killing five peo­ple, in­clud­ing two of­fi­cers.

In clashes with the ter­ror­ists so far, at least one man has been killed and the Egyp­tian forces un­cov­ered a clan­des­tine weapons fac­tory near El Ar­ish.

PHOTO: AP

Bedouin watch as the gas pipe­line from Egypt to Is­rael ex­plodes — one of five at­tacks in the past six months

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.