Sunday, June 17, 2012

16-Jun-12: Behind Friday's rocket attacks on the Negev

Sinai Bedouin: Playing a growing role in terrorist attacks
on Israel as Egypt sinks into chaos
The security threat posed to Israel by the terror-group build up and increasing chaos in Sinai moved to a new plateau this weekend. 

It was discovered during Saturday that two powerful Grad rockets were fired into southern Israel on Friday. Israeli sources say they originated in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula. One rocket landed north of Eilat in an open area of the desolate Elot region. The second landed near Mitzpeh Ramon in Israel's Negev region. No damage or injuries were reported in either explosion. Terrorist rockets have previously been fired into Israel's Red Sea resort Eilat from Sinai: five rockets were fired at Eilat in 2010, with several overshooting Israeli territory. A Jordanian was killed in the neighboring city of Aqaba in one such attack.

Haaretz, quoting Israeli security officials, says Friday's attacks were carried out by Bedouin terrorists directed by Hamas and following a Muslim Brotherhood request. A Times of Israel report says the Grad rocket that landed in the Elot region traveled at least 25 kilometers, Israeli officials said Saturday, making it the deepest incursion yet made by a rocket originating in Sinai. Israel conveyed concerns over the rocket fire to Egyptian authorities, but - according to the Times of Israel report - played down the incident because it coincides with Egypt’s sensitive presidential election vote this weekend. A senior Egyptian security official, speaking to Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm on Saturday, denied that the rocket fire had originated in the Sinai. He said “the Israeli claims are intended to hurt the security situation in the Sinai and to influence the presidential elections.”

It's a response we have heard before. See this post of ours [5-Oct-11: Quote of the day: Sinai is 100% safe] which highlights a statement by the head of Egypt's then-ruling military regime: "The security situation in Sinai is 100% safe" [Source]. 

Time to also recall the words we quoted in our August 30, 2011 blog based on an incisive piece by one of Australia's leading foreign affairs commentators (Greg Sheridan, "Freedom for extremists could make Sinai the new Somalia"): 
"Although, with Israel's agreement, Egypt has sent more troops into Sinai to try to restore order, it has essentially lost control of Sinai, where non-integrated Bedouin tribes are happy to co-operate with Islamist terrorists." 
The laconic Egyptian responses are sharply at odds with what we Israelis remember only too well. On August 18 2011, eight Israelis died and at least 40 were wounded in a multi-pronged terror attack near the southern-most Israeli city, Eilat. The attackers infiltrated from Sinai.

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