Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Egypt restoring order to Sinai

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Following on from this post concerning the growing lawlessness in the Sinai, Haaretz has reported today that Egypian authorities have now taken action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Egyptian security forces, pushing ahead with a crackdown on armed groups in lawless northern Sinai, on Tuesday seized four armed militants as they prepared to blow up a gas pipeline in the city of el-Arish, security sources said.

They said the military operation - dubbed Operation Eagle - began this week after a spike in attacks on security forces in Sinai since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February."Security guards captured four militants at the pipeline site. They possessed explosives and weapons," one security official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

The pipeline, target of much resentment from many Egyptians who say that the Mubarak government had been selling gas to Israel at below market rates, was attacked five times this year.

... An Egyptian army source said that Egypt, in coordination with Israel, deployed about 1,000 soldiers for the operation to root out an estimated 1,200-1,300 armed militants who had taken advantage of the security vacuum following Mubarak's downfall.

Egyptian security sources said the militants captured on Tuesday were the second group to be seized since the army operation began last week. On Monday, troops attacked militant hideouts, killing one gunman and arresting 11 militants, according to security sources.

That the SCAF is cracking down on Islamist militants near its border with is an encouraging sign. Hopefully, we will see more such action - especially against the groups engaged in smuggling weapons to Hamas in Gaza.

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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