Saturday, January 12, 2013

12-Jan-13: In Sinai, they keep saying "nothing can be done except to take cover"

News reports, like the BBC item from August 2012, keep reporting
on Egyptian military build up in the Sinai. Somehow the bulk
of the casualties, like yesterday's, seem to come from the
Egyptian military side [Screen shot from BBC website]
Just last week, we posted here ["5-Jan-13: The headaches from Sinai grow in intensity"] about how the Palestinian Arab terror groups are steadily upping the stakes in the face of the ongoing anarchy that now prevails in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptians took credit for a weapons seizure a day earlier but, as we noted, they have a track record of being either unable or unwilling to thwart the efforts of the proliferating jihadist forces there.

Tonight there is an AFP report of fresh attacks by Sinai-based terrorists. An Egyptian police officer and six police recruits were injured yesterday (Friday) when they came under shooting attack while guarding the cross-Sinai pipeline that delivers Egyptian gas to foreign customers. One of those customers used to be Israel; the AFP editors somehow don't mention that Egypt unilaterally shut gas deliveries down some months ago (see "Egypt cancels Israeli gas contract")

In today's pipeline attack, "unidentified gunmen" opened fire on the patrol in the Ouja region, hitting the seven soldiers who were all taken to hospital in El-Arish. AFP's editors sum it up by saying
Since the fall in February 2011 of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, the peninsula has been swept be security problems, including regular attacks by radical groups on the police and army. The army launched a major crackdown in the region in early August last year after 16 Egyptian border guards were killed in a militant assault.
It's an oddly benign way to relate to what is happening in Sinai. Calling them 'security problems' is to ignore that Sinai has become a staging area for terror attacks on Israel and for the delivery of vast quantities of weapons into the hands of the terrorist regime in Gaza. A report yesterday on the site ["Terrorists Restocking Arsenal to Pre-Operation “Pillar of Defense” Levels, Officials Say"] says the weapons arsenal held by Hamas in Gaza , "heavily depleted" during the November 2012 fighting during Operation Pillar of Defence" have already been replenished
"to levels seen before an Israeli offensive in November targeted terrorist weapon caches. The officials furthermore believe that this rearmament represents an inevitable confrontation with terrorist organizations in Gaza in the near future" [more]
This is not good news unless you happen to favour rocket fire on Israel and the resultant death and destruction on all sides of the battle. Evidently there are plenty of people in that category, many of them essentially controlling the Sinai peninsula today right under the noses of the Morsi government in Cairo.

Back in November, TIME magazine ["How Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Figures in the Gaza Turmoil"] pointed out that
the word Sinai was never uttered through three presidential debates and almost never on the campaign trail. But ask some foreign policy experts where they fear the next flashpoint will be in the Middle East and it isn’t Iran or, even, Syria. It’s the Sinai. They point to the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, which borders on the Sinai, as evidence of just how combustible the region in. The Sinai Peninsula, which is ostensibly ruled by Egypt, is a backwater of mostly desert and rocks... But, with post-revolutionary Egypt in constant tumult, tourist and pilgrimage traffic is down. And as the Egyptian military focused on internal politics, the Sinai has become overrun by smugglers – who deal in everything from drugs to guns to humans — and worse, al-Qaeda affiliated extremists... Along a 14.5 kilometer stretch of Sinai’s eastern shoulder, is the border with the Gaza Strip. It is through some 400 tunnels under this border that Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organization that rules the strip, smuggles the rockets in its arsenal... One of the reasons the Sinai is such a draw for terrorist groups is because they can easily lob bombs across the Israeli border and Israel cannot respond lest it risk breaching its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt... “Sinai is a significant threat. You have jihadist groups which are able to operate relatively freely across Gaza and the Sinai, giving them strategic depth,” says Mike Singh, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ”It’s all part and parcel of the same threat as Gaza, and we need to see Cairo and Hamas get serious about getting it under control.” But, until a ceasefire is called in the Gaza Strip, nothing can be done except to take cover.
Trouble is, we have run out of places to take cover in Israel.

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