Ei­lat rocket at­tack is lat­est in a string of at­tacks from Si­nai

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BYBENHARTMAN

EX­PLO­SIONS ROCKED the city of Ei­lat on Wed­nes­day night of last week, af­ter at least one Grad rocket, be­lieved to have been fired from the Si­nai Penin­sula, landed in the south­ern Is­rael city.

Though traces of a rocket were found around 150 me­tres from a res­i­den­tial build­ing, no in­juries were re­ported in the at­tack. Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu vowed that Is­rael will “strike at those who at­tack us,” a pledge that was echoed by De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak.

The strike was the lat­est in a se­ries of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents orig­i­nat­ing in the Si­nai since the Egyp­tian up­ris­ing, which be­gan last Jan­uary, brought the coun­try’s sys­tem of law and or­der to a stand­still, nowhere more so than the penin­sula, where the rule of the state was never iron­clad to be­gin with.

Fur­ther­more, dur­ing the Libyan up­ris­ing, large amounts of weaponry made their way from Gaddafi’s raided ware­houses to the Si­nai Penin­sula, where the Be­douin clans that ex­er­cise de facto rule over the ter­ri­tory were al­ready well-armed.

In a fur­ther in­di­ca­tion of the chaos on Is­rael’s south­ern bor­der, on Sun­day, an ex­plo­sion struck a sec­tion of the Egypt-is­rael gas pipe­line out­side the north­ern Si­nai city of El-arish, the 14th time the pipe­line has been at­tacked since the Egyp­tian up­ris­ing be­gan.

The pipe­line, which has re­mained shut since an ex­plo­sion on Fe­bru­ary 5, has car­ried nat­u­ral gas from Egypt to Is­rael and Jor­dan as part of a 20-year deal be­tween the two coun­tries.

A day be­fore the at­tack on the pipe­line, Egypt an­nounced that it will de­ploy 150 Spe­cial Forces of­fi­cers and po­lice to pa­trol the north­ern Si­nai and bring more law and or­der to the re­gion in co-or­di­na­tion with Is­rael.

In Au­gust 2011, gun­men in­fil­trated Is­rael from Si­nai and launched a se­ries of at­tacks that left eight Is­raelis dead and dozens wounded. While pur­su­ing the ter­ror­ists, er­rant IDF fire killed three Egyp­tian sol­diers, fur­ther strain­ing ties be­tween Is­rael and Egypt. The fol­low­ing Fri­day, a crowd of thou­sands stormed the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Cairo.

Is­rael’s for­mer am­bas­sador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, told the JC that the sit­u­a­tion in Si­nai is a di­rect re­sult of ne­glect by Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties of the Be­douin who make up some 90 per cent of Si­nai’s 300,000 res­i­dents.

“The sit­u­a­tion is bad in the Si­nai be­cause the Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties have al­ways treated the Be­douin dis­mis­sively and never got in­volved in their eco­nomic lives or so­cial is­sues,” Mazel said, adding that the only way to solve the sit­u­a­tion in Si­nai is through in­creased di­a­logue be­tween the Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties and the Be­douin of Si­nai.

In the mean­time, Mazel ar­gued that it will be im­pos­si­ble for Is­rael to op­er­ate mil­i­tar­ily in­side Si­nai and will have to counter ter­ror at­tacks through di­a­logue with Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties, who will be en­trusted to act to pro­tect Is­rael’s south­ern bor­der.

PHOTO: AP

Is­raeli po­lice in­spect dam­age from the rocket that struck Ei­lat last week

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