Wednesday, March 06, 2013

6-Mar-13: In Sinai, it's mainly the Egyptian law enforcement services that prevent terrorists from entirely taking over... and now they're on strike

The Israel/Egypt border fence [Image Source: Wikimedia]
Israel's border with Egypt [Project Sand Timeris long (266 kilometers), and has enormous strageic importance given what happens on the far side. Though demarcated by a new steel fence, it constitutes a major headache for those charged with keeping Israel safe and secure.

The part-constructed fence already secures part of the border, but (a) it will be months before it is completed; (b) there is already at least one tunnel that brings 'smugglers' under it - see this Arab news report from yesterday; and (c) fences are of modest value against attacks by rocket-equipped terrorists.

We have written numerous times about the growing lawlessness of Egyptian Sinai and the danger of having the terrorists essentially in control is a huge one. See for instance 5-Jan-13: The headaches from Sinai grow in intensity; 12-Jan-13: In Sinai, they keep saying "nothing can be done except to take cover"; 30-Oct-12: Egypt's Sinai problem and ours; 8-Sep-12: Ongoing riddles in Sinai; among many others.

Now the Egyptian police, who do whatever it is they do down there, are on strike.
Egyptian police protest in Sinai, Cairo demanding weapons  Ahram Online , Tuesday 5 Mar 2013  | Dozens of police officers across different directorates in Sinai are on strike for the second day in a row. This includes officers in the directorates of Tour Sinai, Ras Sidr, Taba and Saint Catherine. Security personnel are protesting against what they describe as "inhumane and degrading" working conditions. They also demand that low-ranking officers and employees be armed so that they can defend themselves from the recurring dangers they are exposed to while on duty. The officers claim that their lives are in danger as ministry leaders refuse to allow them access to weapons, urging them to maintain self-restraint. They also demand to be awarded excellence bonuses on a regular basis. The officers said that they would be suspending work until their demands are fulfilled. In Cairo, dozens of police officers from the Old Cairo Police Directorate blocked off Salah Salem Street, a major thoroughfare leading to Cairo International Airport, early on Tuesday, bringing traffic flow to a complete halt. The officers were angry at the death of a fellow officer who died in the line of duty as he attempted to stop a bank robbery. They are demanding more access to live ammunition to defend themselves. Security forces managed to coax protesting officers into reopening the road to traffic. 
This is not likely to produce a good result.

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