The Associated Press yesterday declared that the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula had become “a new front for jihad.” IDF intelligence records some 300 terror attacks which have been launched against Egyptian security forces in the area in recent weeks. A single attack saw 25 Egyptian police officers reportedly slain in “execution-style” killings.
Cairo has recently expanded its campaign to dampen and contain violence in the territory. Egyptian forces – per Ha’aretz – have more or less had enough:
Reports of the deaths of 15 militants in Sinai on Tuesday, alongside announcements of heavy prison sentences against activists in the Muslim Brotherhood, make it clear that the military leadership in Egypt has made a strategic decision to demonstrate zero tolerance toward any political or military activity of radical organizations… This show of force is not the most important thing, though. Even though the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie; his deputy, Khairat El-Shater; and deposed president Mohammed Morsi – who has a 7,000-page indictment against him – are in jail awaiting trial, a secret dialogue between senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and representatives of the temporary government continues.
Nonetheless there are fears that the Egyptian army is straining in its ongoing campaign to root out jihadists. For their part the Israelis are quietly assisting Cairo where they can, while making contingency plans in case security collapses:
Risk management in the southern sector seems endless. In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom, GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman says that Israel is preparing for the possibility that the turmoil in Egypt will create a new reality along the borders, saying that since 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense, Gaza-based terror groups have increased their ability to target central Israel.
“The IDF’s main enemy in the south are Gaza-based terrorists, from both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which are just waiting for the day they will be ordered to strike,” Turgeman said. “Global jihad [whose operatives are based in Sinai] is a disturbing and less familiar threat, but it is based in a country with which we have a peace deal. We have a partner that is equally threatened by them, so it’s a mutual interest.”
[Photo: Gigi Ibrahim / Flickr]