Egypt reportedly losing control of Sinai to Beduin

Israelis urged to return home for fear that peninsula will become launching pad for terror attacks as Egyptian police abandon posts.

By
February 13, 2011 01:48
1 minute read.
A Beduin man rides a camel on Sinai beach.

sinai beach camel 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Concern is mounting in Israel over reports that the Egyptian police force has abandoned the Sinai Peninsula in face of growing Beduin violence, and that the territory will turn into a breeding ground for global jihad.

According to information that has arrived in Israel, Egyptian police authorities have abandoned dozens of police stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Beduin armed with missiles and assault rifles.

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This concern was behind Israel’s decision two weeks ago to allow the deployment of 800 Egyptian soldiers in Sharm e-Sheikh and Rafah.

Additional requests since then have been rejected.

In recent years, the Sinai hasturned into a launching pad for attacks against Israel, including by Hamas, which several months ago launched Katyusha rockets into Eilat from the Egyptian territory.


The Egyptian military has for years encountered difficulty in controlling the Beduin population, which does not hold allegiance to the Egyptian government in Cairo.

“The Sinai is already known as a lawless land,” a senior defense official said over the weekend. “There is real concern that if the Egyptians don’t get the Sinai back under their control, it could develop into a major threat to Israel.”

Israel, which has urged all its citizens to leave the Sinai immediately, is particularly concerned about the possibility that Hamas will take hold of parts of the peninsula and use it to launch attacks into Israel via the 240-kilometer long Israeli- Egyptian border, with an emphasis on Eilat.

There is also concern that without a real Egyptian security presence in the Sinai, Hamas will be able to increase the amount and quality of weaponry and explosives it smuggles into the Gaza Strip via Egypt.

Israel has shared these concerns with its allies, as well as on a personal level between Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.

Gabi Ashkenazi and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen.

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