Monday, August 19, 2013

19-Aug-13: The incomprehensible chaos that is Sinai

Sinai from the Israeli side of the security fence along
the border [Image Source: Reuters/Baz Ratner]
If you read this blog regularly, you will know that Sinai features quite often (some of the evidence is here). There are seriously dangerous developments unfolding in the desert peninsula, and nothing is getting better. Today it got a lot worse.

This morning, two mini-buses transporting off-duty policemen were stopped near Rafah, on the Egyptian border with  Gaza, by what Associated Press calls 'militants' who ordered them out and told them to lie flat on the ground. Twenty-five of them were then killed by a shot to the back of the head, says AP.

The Aljazeera version, refreshed online just in the last few minutes, still says what the first news reports some ten or 12 hours ago said: that the police died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their buses.

You would think that an event as dramatic as today's - the worst terrorist attack in the Sinai for a long time, one of the deadliest on security forces in several years, according to the BBC - would be reported with a degree of accuracy and clarity; that the broad outlines of what happened would be agreed.

The contradictory versions however point to a different sort of reality which we, who don't live in today's Egyptian chaos, are probably unable to understand. That's something worth bearing in mind when news from a Middle East in utter chaos, the Arab Post-Spring, reaches our screens.

Meanwhile the Egypt government has closed the Rafah border crossing - "the only way most Palestinians in Gaza can leave the territory" as Alarabiya puts it tonight - and no one is screaming or announcing flotillas. Might be a good time to remind readers of a blog entry we posted here nearly three weeks ago: "1-Aug-13: Escalating troubles in Sinai and Gaza: Is it still news if Israel can't be blamed?"

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