Sinai Attack Shows Egypt Needs Israel

August 8, 2012 1:38 pm 0 comments

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz surveys the wreckage from the August, 5th terror attack. Photo: IDF.

The weekend terrorist attack in Sinai which killed 16 Egyptian border policemen has made clear that Egypt needs to preserve a strategic alliance with Israel to face a common enemy, namely al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups anxious to attack and destabilize both countries.

Suspected Islamists on Sunday evening attacked an Egyptian checkpoint, killed the troops, then stole two of their vehicles and tried to storm the fence at the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel with the apparent goal of kidnapping an Israeli soldier or civilians.

The men loaded the truck with explosives and blew it up, killing the driver. Israeli planes scrambled and took out the armored vehicle and Israeli troops killed six or seven more of the attackers as they fled.

The situation in Sinai creates a dilemma for Egypt’s newly-elected President Mohamed Morsi. On one hand, Morsi comes out of a Muslim Brotherhood political tradition of deep hostility to Israel. He recently said he did not want there to be an impression of cooperation with Israel; nor did he want to strengthen security ties because Egyptian public opinion was opposed to this.

On the other, the reality is that Israel presents no strategic threat to Egypt and could be an important strategic ally. As Sunday’s attack makes clear, the real threat comes from al-Qaeda and other jihadists.

Morsi vowed his nation’s military would regain full control of the Sinai. “Those who carried out this crime will pay dearly,” said Morsi, according to the Guardian. “Clear orders have been given to our armed forces and police to chase and arrest those who carried out this assault on our children. The forces will impose full control over these areas of Sinai.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel and Egypt obviously have a common interest in keeping the border quiet..”

As the State Department’s annual report on terrorism worldwide released last week made clear, the situation in the vast and sparsely-populated Sinai Peninsula has approached crisis point.

“The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and Gaza created criminal networks with possible ties to terrorist groups in the region. The smuggling of weapons from Libya through Egypt has increased since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime,” the report said.

The warning signs were clear on August 18, 2011, when a series of shooting and suicide attacks on cars and buses in southern Israel by terrorists who entered Israel from the Sinai killed eight and injured 40.

Moreover, the report added, Iranian-backed Hamas has successfully smuggled long-range rockets from Sinai through tunnels into Gaza and subsequently began producing rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv suburbs.

The ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 created a power vacuum in Sinai which was quickly filled by jihadists. According to Michael Herzog of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, they joined local Bedouin, many of whom felt alienated from the central government and hoped to improve economic conditions in their underdeveloped region through activities such as cross-border smuggling.

These Bedouin, especially those in the northeast and the mountainous central areas, are well armed and increasingly influenced by extreme Islamist ideology. They cooperate closely with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups from Gaza, who have established a foothold in Sinai and recruited local tribesmen for various operations.

“Egyptian authorities have evidently lost effective control over large parts of Sinai, and the peninsula has become a no man’s land. In the past eighteen months, militant Egyptian and Palestinian groups have attacked dozens of police stations, checkpoints, and government institutions there, killing several policemen, while the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipeline in northern Sinai has been sabotaged 14 times, Herzog wrote back in June.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, there are al-Qaeda forces in Sinai from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and other Arab and Muslim countries supported by the local Bedouin. Meanwhile, various other terror groups in the Gaza Strip are assisting them and smuggling arms and goods into the Strip.

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the Sinai body tasked with monitoring the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, has also been targeted by these jihadists — by 187 live-fire incidents between January and May of this year.

The fall of Qaddafi in Libya created a bonanza for weapons smugglers. Among the most dangerous weapons taken from unsecured dumps in Libya are advanced SA-24 shoulder-launched ground-to-air missiles.

Israel is trying to cope with the new situation through various means, including constructing a new security fence.Its border guards were well-prepared for Sunday’s attack. Its forces reacted swiftly and forcefully, neutralizing the threat with no losses. In contrast, the Egyptians were totally unprepared and were caught by surprise.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the attack a “wake-up call” for Egypt. Not only do they need to tighten their procedures; they also need to figure out who are their friends and who are their enemies.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.