Sinai – The Gazan Terrorists’ Testing Grounds
Rocket attacks continue to plague the south of Israel, the last one occurring a few days ago. The IDF deployed an anti-rocket “Iron Dome” battery in Eilat a few weeks ago. These latest strikes follow the massive attack which took place on August 5th, which claimed the lives of sixteen Egyptian soldiers and which was finally blocked by the IDF on Israel’s southern border.
These events are not recent developments. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, was ousted from his position in disgrace in February of 2011. Since that time, the balance of power in the Sinai Peninsula has changed dramatically, and it seems that the change is to the detriment of all parties in the region, excluding the power factors in the Gaza Strip – the terrorist organizations of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other minor organizations.
Since the deposing of Mubarak, terror organizations which originate from the Gaza Strip have taken control of the Sinai Peninsula, along with other terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which develop their infrastructure of terror everywhere they can, and especially in areas that suffer from lack of government and neglect, such as the Sinai region. In recent months, they have operated an industry of terrorism at an unprecedented magnitude, including weapons experiments, weapons smuggling, and terrorist attacks. Since February 2011, the IDF has received several reports on events of weapons experimentation in open areas throughout the Sinai. Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip are taking advantage of the lawlessness in the Sinai in order to perform experimentations with weapons of varying grades, firing into areas in Sinai, and receiving feedback on the strikes from local collaborators. Through these experiments, the terrorist organizations can improve the weapons’ shooting angles, amount of explosives and range depending on where the rockets fall.
In addition, the tunnel routes between Gaza and Sinai have developed significantly since the fall of Mubarak’s regime. The tunnel owners have known difficult periods when concentrated joint efforts were made by Israel and the Mubarak regime to create obstacles for these tunnels. They are currently experiencing a profitable period as both their civilian businesses and their collaboration with the terrorist’s industry in Gaza do not encounter any difficulties on the Egyptians side. Some of tunnels are big enough that entire vehicles can be transported through them.
This reality has severely hampered the security of Israel’s southern border. Sinai of the post-Mubarak era has become a focal point for active and brutal terrorism, due to the vacuum created in the region, as the Egyptians have not taken responsibility for their sovereign territory, and the waste lands are utilized by the terrorist organizations to the outmost.
Member of Knesset Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, a knowledgeable source on the Egyptian scene stated after the attack: “I hear president Mursy’s statements and I understand he has come to a conclusion that if he does not gain control of the Sinai soon, he will be sitting on a nuclear bomb. Sinai, with all its components – including the Global Jihad, Al – Qaida and other terrorist organizations – is going to become a place that could shake the entire of Egypt.”