The attack along the southern border
on Sunday night, which killed around a
dozen Egyptian soldiers, could be a turning point for Cairo in its fight over
the future of Sinai.
Israel has been warning for years now that
terrorists from global jihad groups based throughout the Middle East, alongside
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, are using Sinai as a launch pad for attacks
This, IDF officers claim, has increased considerably since
the downfall of Hosni Mubarak last year.
Until now, likely because the
attacks were aimed only against Israel, the Egyptians have done hardly anything
about this. Now, that might begin to change.
This, at least, will be Israel’s hope in the aftermath of the attack on Sunday
night, although it will take weeks, if not months, to determine if there is such
The attack was sophisticated, but it was also extremely
ambitious and seemed to have been taken straight out of a Hollywood movie –
breaking into an Egyptian military base, killing around a dozen soldiers,
stealing two armored vehicles and then ramming them into Israel.
that the terrorists are not afraid of Egypt and are willing to kill Egyptians on
their way to kill Israelis.
For now, the IDF’s investigation will focus
on determining the identity of the attackers. It seems that at least some of
them are Egyptian Beduin from Sinai, while others might be Palestinians
from the Gaza Strip. The IDF believes that the perpetrators are part of a larger
global jihad infrastructure that is forming inside Sinai and is a threat not
just to Israel but also to Egypt.
The attack was not connected to the one
that Israel thwarted earlier in the day with an air strike on a global jihad
cell in southern Gaza that killed one terrorist and seriously wounded another.
That planned attack, which appears to have been thwarted – for the time being –
was supposed to be different.
The IDF did, however, have vague
intelligence about the second attack and, as a result, it was not a coincidence
that OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo was in an army base adjacent to the
Kerem Shalom crossing when the attack took place.
What this means is that
Israel is facing a reality along its border with Egypt that is becoming more and
more similar to the situation along its border with Gaza – a number of groups
all trying simultaneously and independently to attack Israel.
will happen? Egypt will probably ask Israel to allow it to deploy additional
army battalions in Sinai so they can crack down on the growing terrorist threat
Israel will be in a difficult position. If it says yes, it
is actively allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to station more soldiers in what is
supposed to be a demilitarized zone. If it says no, it will be giving new
President Mohamed Morsy a way out from having to do anything.