News media on Monday, August 19, reported 25 Egyptian police officers were killed in the Sinai peninsula area. In my August 9 Blog, I described the unfolding situation in this area that Menachem Begin returned to Egyptian control. He did so in in order to establish a peace agreement with Anwar Sadat. In that report, I described the radicalized bedouins that have become terrorists, striking both Israel and Egypt. The August 19 report indicates the violence has escalated as the eruption in Cairo and Alexandria continues.
Apparently, two mini-buses carrying off-duty policemen in civilian clothes were ambushed. One report stated that a grenade-launcher stuck the vehicles. However, state television indicated the policemen were ordered off the captured bus and forced to lay face down in the road where they were killed execution style. Their deaths occurred near the town of Rafah.
In the same news release, Hosni Mubarak, along with his sons, was reported to have been acquitted of charges of embezzlement. Although the verdict was not a surprise, the timing was somewhat unexpected. It seems to have been slipped under the headline grabbing reports of street violence sweeping the country. The implication is that the government sought a moment when there would not be great public attention examining the reports of his release. Obviously, the new interim government is more favorable to Mubarak than the Morsi administration would have been.
Meanwhile, jihadists are flooding the Sinai area. Some of the terrorists groups are linked to the Gaza strip administration. As this violent situation is pressing Egypt, it has also caught Israel’s concern. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is been giving more attention to this area. The threat of rocket attacks on Eilat remains a major concern. An Iron Dome air defense battery has been relocated near the Red Sea Resort city. During the recent military exchange between Israel and Gaza, the Iron Dome system proved highly effective in stopping rockets from landing in Tel Aviv. At the same time, Israel wants to entirely stop these desert assaults. The head of the IDF battalion stationed on the Egyptian border stated that their assumption is that an attack will eventually happen. They are prepared.
The Sinai situation is another example of how events in Egypt can effect the whole area. Israelis must remain prepared for immediate response to threats or attacks. With the Syrian civil war bringing in dozens of jihadists groups, Israel must also watch the Golan Height area carefully. These terrorist groups not only want to topple Assad, but have a common goal of establishing an Islamic religious state. The mad dogs in the desert have the same idea.
The Arab Spring continues to feel like winter.