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Egyptian Military: Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula Jihadists Conducting Joint Operations

The Egyptian military’s ongoing campaign to uproot terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula is more and more focusing explicitly on securing the territory’s border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The army is clearing buildings – many of which are used as cover for smuggling tunnels that Cairo blames for facilitating jihadism in the Sinai – up to one kilometer from the border.

Army officials – who have long linked Hamas to deepening chaos in the region – are now going on the record blaming the group for everything short of directly participating in attacks:

Ali declined to accuse Hamas directly of attacks in Egypt, though he said hand grenades stamped with the name of the Palestinian group’s armed wing, the Qassam brigades, had been found in the security sweep. “There is cooperation between the armed terror groups with their counterparts in the Gaza Strip, and more than one joint operation has been monitored,” Ali said…

Ali said the military on Friday found two bombs beneath a security observation tower with detonation fuses that ran through a tunnel into Gaza. “The detonation was going to happen from Gaza,” he said. He screened a video in which eight of 18 men detained in the security sweep identified themselves as Palestinian.

Hamas has scrambled to field accusations that it is responsible for violence in the Sinai, and has more generally sought to dampen tensions between it and the Egyptian army. Both Hamas leaders and Gaza preachers have been ordered to stop antagonizing the Egyptians.

The damage control campaign has genderated at-best uneven success. Last week’s reported incursion into Gaza by two Egyptian tanks likely raised fears that Egypt might act against Gaza if it deems Hamas and its allies are a threat to its security.

The army claims to have destroyed 152 tunnels since June 30, and to have arrested 309 militants in recent sweeps. Army officials are also talking up a development plan which they say will be implemented as soon as the Sinai Peninsula is terrorist-free.

[Photo: JewishNewsOne / YouTube]