Israel predicts increased Beduin terror activity

"Sinai is an intelligence black hole," defense official says’; Gantz urges Cairo to restore control over Sinai following border attack.

Chief of staff tours south following terror attack 370 (photo credit: IDF)
Chief of staff tours south following terror attack 370
(photo credit: IDF)
As Israel completes construction of a fence along its border with Egypt, concern is growing within the defense establishment that Beduin who are dependent on the smuggling industry will increase their involvement in terrorism.
According to the IDF, there are approximately 400,000 Beduin who live in the Sinai Peninsula are are split into a number of tribes. Twenty percent of them are involved in tourism and the remaining 80 percent in trade, mostly smuggling.
“Once the fence is up and completed we expect that we will see more Beduin involvement in terror from the Sinai,” one senior IDF officer explained.
The assessment is based on an increase in involvement by Beduin in terror activity within the Sinai, mostly in attacks against Egyptian military and police positions. In addition, the perpetrators of the attack last August along the border – which killed eight Israelis – were carried out by Egyptian Beduin.
Meanwhile Tuesday, the IDF Southern Command continued its investigation into the attack on Monday which killed an Israeli construction worker on his way to work on the border fence.
The attack was perpetrated by a cell consisting of about four terrorists. Two crossed into Israel and planted a roadside bomb which they detonated next to a jeep carrying men heading to work on the border fence.
But defense officials admitted that one of Israel’s greatest challenges was gathering intelligence on terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai.
“It is like a big black hole,” one official said when trying to describe the difficulty in gathering data on terror activity in the peninsula.
One of the main reasons is because Israel does not have the ability to operate as freely in the Sinai as it does in the Gaza Strip.
For that reason and due to predictions that the attacks will continue, Israel is continuing its call on the Egyptian government to restore control over the Sinai. On Tuesday, Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz toured the border and said that terrorist groups were already setting up bases inside the Sinai that would be used to launch attacks against Israel.
He added that the Defense Ministry would continue working on the fence along the border expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“The more significant problem is what’s happening in Sinai, where terror bases are being established and we expect the Egyptian to restore their sovereignty there,” Gantz said.
Gantz’s comments echo similar statements made Monday by members of Israel’s political establishment, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Netanyahu said the border attack would not deter Israel from building the security barrier.
“This barrier is meant both to prevent terrorism and also to prevent the entrance of infiltrators,” he said. “Its construction is of supreme national interest.”