Analysis: Sinai’s growing terrorism problem

IDF and Egyptian army cooperate on fighting jihad elements.

July 8, 2013 05:07
1 minute read.
Egyptian soldier guards checkpoint in Rafah in Sinai

Egyptian soldier in Sinai 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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As Egypt grapples with mass unrest and political upheaval, security cooperation between the IDF and the Egyptian military – on a tactical level – remains very good.

Not only does the Egyptian army seek to tackle radical jihadi terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, it has also cracked down on Gazan smuggling tunnels linking the Strip to the Sinai Peninsula, of which they have flooded 40 tunnels with sewer water in recent days.

The Egyptian army isn’t taking these steps as a favor to Israel. Rather, it faces a common threat in the form of radical armed Islamic elements – based in Gaza and Sinai – who would like to launch attacks on targets in Egypt. The same elements are keen on attacking Israel too.

The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty remains a strategic asset for both countries, but the growing number of al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in Sinai are seeking to create a provocation aimed at undermining the treaty.

These elements are made up mostly of local, radicalized Beduin, though residents of Egypt proper and foreign jihadists have joined as well. A disturbing wave of radicalization is sweeping over sections of the Sinai Beduin population.

Mosques are mushrooming across the peninsula’s desert dunes.

The radical groups include groups like the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, which claimed responsibility over the weekend for Thursday’s double rocket attack on Eilat.

The rockets missed their targets, landing in open areas and failing to cause injuries or damages. Some 10 projectiles have been fired on the Red Sea resort city from Sinai over recent years.

The IDF is fully switched on to the growing threat from the Sinai Peninsula, and is investing heavily to deal with this developing situation.

Efforts include an attempt to improve intelligence gathering capabilities, making it less likely that any future attack will take security forces by surprise.

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