Egyptian Army forces take decisive measures to confront jihadists in the Sinai peninsula and seal the border with Gaza.
The Egyptian Army has launched a military offensive against Muslim Brotherhood supporters and global jihadists operating in the Sinai peninsula. As part of its effort to halt arms smuggling, which destabilizes the Sinai and Egypt proper, the Egyptian military recently flooded 40 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt with sewer water. Egypt’s military also closed the Rafah crossing to prevent Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Gazan terrorists from entering Egypt to attack its army. In light of radical jihadists’ recent call for a mass uprising against the Egyptian Army, the military offensive is expected to continue.
An Egyptian military official reported that the operation’s goal is to “clean [Sinai] up from terrorists and criminal cells.” According to this official, “[C]oordination is ongoing between the Egyptians and the Israelis to bring military vehicles, troops, and jets into Sinai to fight terror.” Israeli Brigadier General Nitzan Nuriel recommended that Israel do everything in her power to help Egypt’s new secular government defeat the Muslim Brotherhood – even if it means amending the military annex of the Camp David Accords. Nuriel believes that defeating the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters will bolster moderate forces across the Middle East, benefiting Israel by promoting substantial regional stability.
Israel’s safety is not, however, Egypt’s primary motivation in stopping Islamist terrorists in the Sinai. While these terrorists frequently target Israel, the Egyptian military is primarily concerned with attacks on the secular and Christian forces that overthrew Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime. As one Egyptian source noted, “The matter in general is not related to Israel, but to the national security of Egypt. There is no will above the Egyptian people’s will, which is worried about the situation in Sinai.”
Radical Islamist groups, such as the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, have utilized the Sinai as a base of terror from which to attack Israel. In recent years, some 10 rockets have been fired at Eilat from this position, including two rockets fired last week by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes and an earlier attack orchestrated by the Mujahadeen Shura Council of Jerusalem. Similarly, Sinai Islamist group Ansar Al Shariah terrorizes Egyptian Coptic Christians, state security forces, and army commanders, with the goal of sabotaging Egyptian democracy and creating an Islamist state. Further undermining Egypt’s sovereignty and interests, radical jihadists in the Sinai recently bombed the natural gas pipeline to Jordan and ignited fires at the El Arish International Airport and three military checkpoints.
PALESTINIAN LEADERS OPPOSE HAMAS’ EGYPT POLICY
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf blamed Egypt’s Rafah crossing closing on Hamas’ overt support of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Assaf, “Hamas’ position does not represent the Palestinian people. We won’t allow Hamas to hold Palestinians hostage. Hamas is serving the agenda of external forces.” PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo echoed similar sentiments, “The victory of the revolution in Egypt and the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime requires that Hamas reconsider its policies.” Abed Rabbo concluded, “We hope that Hamas will draw the conclusions and agree to real democratic elections for the sake of the Palestinians.”
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel