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August 23, 2011

Israel Under Fire: The Growing Threat From Sinai

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Responding to the horrific acts of terror committed against Israel, which began on Thursday, August 18, 2011, when terrorists opened fire at an Israeli bus, and which has continued for many days, with nearly 130 rockets and mortar shells fired into southern Israel, Jacques Neriah of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs analyzes the growing threat to Israel and the entire region. He writes,

The armed incursion into Israel, across the Egyptian border, of more than twenty Palestinian terrorists from the Popular Resistance Committee...which left eight Israelis dead, set off the latest round of fighting in southern Israel. It would not have been possible without the growing weakness of the Egyptian regime’s grip on Egypt as a whole and the Sinai Peninsula in particular...Israeli spokesmen as well as politicians repeatedly stressed the fact that Egypt had almost lost control in Sinai. Israelis noted that Egypt’s gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon had been sabotaged five times... Israel also issued warnings to its citizens not to stay in Sinai since it had become a haven for terrorists, smugglers, and arms trafficking.

He goes on to say,

To stop the loosening of the Egyptian grip on Sinai, Israel agreed twice to significant Egyptian troop increases to their force deployment in the peninsula...However, from day one of the operations against the extremist organizations in northern Sinai, the Egyptian authorities realized to their dismay that the phenomenon is not limited to Sinai but engulfs the whole of Egypt. Islamist cells have been created all over Egypt so as to topple the regime by force...In January 2011 Egypt’s former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, charged that the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamist group Jaish al-Islam was responsible for a New Year’s Eve attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria that left twenty-three Egyptian Christians dead.

Weeks ago, the concern that Sinai was becoming the meeting ground for terrorist groups, was raised by Khaled Abu Toameh when he said, "If the Egyptian authorities do not move quickly to crush the extremists and regain control, the Sinai Peninsula could soon become a separate Islamic emirate run by Salafis, Hamas and Al-Qaeda."

Bruce Riedel, of The Daily Beast, in his August 21, 2011, article writes of the growing threat to the region as these terrorist groups take up positions in the Sinai:

Since the Egyptian revolution in February, law and order has broken down in the Sinai, as Egyptian police stations have been abandoned or attacked. Prisons across the country have been opened or abandoned, allowing many accused jihadists to escape. Many fled to Sinai...At the end of July, a group of dozens of armed men attacked the police station in El Arish, the capital of the peninsula...In the wake of the attack on El Arish, pamphlets were circulated announcing a “Statement From Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.” The statement called for creating an Islamic emirate in the Sinai.

Even as Israel hopes to work with Egypt to contain the growing terror network in the Sinai, YNet reports in an August 23, 2011, news article of additional fallout from the terror attack on Israel. Islamic scholar Dr. Salah Sultan, a lecturer of Muslim jurisprudence at the Cairo University, issued a religious decree according to which "it is permissible to kill 'any Israeli on Egyptian land;' and 'every Muslim who meets a Zionist is entitled to kill him.'"

The threat from Israel's southern border is growing.

Posted by at August 23, 2011 12:20 PM

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