The August 5 terrorist attack on the Egyptian military base that killed 15 soldiers has created unexpected turmoil and reassessment of the Sinai. Covered by the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel has understood that the desert is a demilitarized zone. A United Nations peace keeping force placed 700 American soldiers in the area. However, the terrorists stole from the Egyptians an APC vehicle that was crashed into the Israeli Karem Shalom crossing. For some time, Israel had been concerned about Bedouin Islamic terrorists who had been creating difficulties in the area. The attack brought matters to a head.
The treaty returning the Sinai peninsula had been signed by Anwar Sudat and Menachem Began during the Carter administration. It was a major turning point in the quest for Middle East peace at that time.
Spokemen for the Karem Shalom outpost noted soldiers were now back to normal operation but warned that the area is “no longer a border of peace.” The Sinai border and the Kibbutz Shalom are only a few dozen meters from the Gaza Strip. Around 12,500 people live in kibbutzim in the area. No fatalities were suffered by Israel. IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) reported the terrorists may have been trying to abduct a soldier as they did several years ago with Gilad Schalit’s capture to demand a ransom or the release of terrorists held in Israeli jails. The worry remains that terrorists could dig under the Gaza security fence and try again. While local residents are back to their daily routines, they are keeping their guns cocked.
Within Israel there is now a renewed discussion over who is responsible of intelligence gathering. Three primary sources collect data, including Military Intelligence, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) and Mossad. After the peace treaty with Egypt, Military intelligence cut back on their budget. However, with the surge of new problems in Sinai, all options are being reassessed. You can bet no one is letting this situation go unnoticed.
This latest attack is being attributed to local Beduins and probably is similar to the cross-border attacks a year ago near the Netafim Crossing where eight Israelis were killed. While that situation was written off as isolated, the present attack is seen in a much more serious light.
Regardless of exactly who did it, this attack amounts to Hamas getting shot in the foot. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy had just received Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for a “buddy-buddy” talk about easing travel restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip residents. They had agreed on opening the Rafah border crossing for 12 hours a day to allow more Palestinians to go and go. Restriction on travel regulations at Cairo’s airport would be eased. The Hamas group proclaimed a “hugh achievement” had been obtained through these discussions. Hamas had been quick to note the Egyptian Supreme Military Council opposed these concessions. Egyptian military have longer considered Hamas a threat to their national security.
Guess what? The attacks brought these agreements to a screeching halt!
The terrorist attack has proved to be an extreme blow to the Hamas talks with Morsy. In addition, they represent an economical loss. Immediately after the border assault, the Egyptian government forced Hamas to close down all underground tunnels that have been vital to preserving Gaza’s economy. In addition, to smuggling goods and fuel, the tunnels have been used to bring weapons into the Hamas controlled area.
It’s obviously going to be a long time before Morsy and the Hamas group sit by the swimming pool and have a nice chat. As Abba Ebon once said, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”