Reacting to the Aug. 5 armed attack on an Egyptian military post near the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood website that the attack “can be attributed to Mossad,” Israel’s foreign intelligence service. Read the statement: “Evidently, this crime may well be the work of Israel’s Mossad, which has sought to abort the revolution ever since its launch, and which issued instructions to Israeli citizens in Sinai to leave immediately, just days ago. It is clearly noticeable that every time a warning like this is issued, a terrorist incident takes place in the Sinai.” More than 15 Egyptian soldiers and border guards were killed in the night attack, and the assailants reportedly seized two armored personnel carriers. The militants briefly penetrated Israeli territory, before their vehicle was shelled by an Israeli air force helicopter. A statement on the Israeli Defense Forces website said the attack was carried out by “global jihadists”—a term the IDF uses to describe members of Salafist groups linked to al-Qaeda’s network in the region.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper meanwhile reported that Mossad had recently warned Egyptian authorities of an imminent attack on the Gaza border. The report said Israeli intelligence believes the militants intended to attack Eilat after breaking through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
The attack took place after a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation targeted “a Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist squad in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a separate statement. The statement did not say how many militants were killed in the incursion, but boasted that “targeting the squad thwarted an additional actual terrorist attack.”
Egypt is now deploying bulldozers and earth movers to Rafah to destroy the estimated 600 tunnels in the area used for smuggling contraband in and out of the Gaza Strip.
Local Bedouin leaders in the Sinai said up to 1,500 multinational jihadist militants have received training in the northern Sinai since the fall of the Mubarak regime. Sheikh Khalaf al-Maniei of the al-Sawarka tribe told the independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an said the training took place in the Sheikh Zweid and Wadi al-Amro regions. The Bedouin community has been warning Egyptian authorities of the growing danger on its border, ”but no one listened to us,” the Sheikh said. (Aswat Masriya, Cairo, Aug. 7 via AllAfrica; ANSA, Aug. 7; Reuters, Aug. 6; Long War Journal, Aug. 5)
On Aug. 8, Egyptian military troops and jets reportedly killed 20 militants at al-Toumah village in the Sheikh Zweid area. The strikes came after militants opened fire on security checkpoints in Rafah and nearby Arish. The airstrikes destroyed three armored vehicles, presumably those seized by the militants in the Rafah raid. The military action constituted Egypt’s first air-strikes in the Sinai since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. (YNet, Reuters, Aug. 8)