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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 26-Oct-2014
26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai

Web Log - October, 2014

26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai

Sinai attack signals the end of Gaza peace agreement terms

This morning's key headlines from

Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai

Al-Sisi during his televised address to the nation on Saturday (VOA/MENA)
Al-Sisi during his televised address to the nation on Saturday (VOA/MENA)

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi has declared a state of emergency in the Sinai peninsula to last three months, with a curfew in force from 5 pm to 7 am. Egypt will also close the Rafah crossing that connects Gaza to Egypt, effectively canceling one of the major terms of the peace agreement that ended the Gaza war that took place in July and August of this year.

On Friday, 26 Egyptian troops were killed when a car bomb rammed a checkpoint in the northern Sinai, near the border with Israel. This followed a gunfire attack on Wednesday from Sinai on an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) unit on the other side of the border in Israel.

The perpetrators are assumed to be the Sinai terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdas (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem). Terror attacks have been on the increase since the army coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government on July 3 of last year, and ABM has claimed credit for many of them. ( "17-Feb-14 World View -- Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus")

However, the perpetrators may instead have been Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate), a splinter group from a similarly named Algerian terrorist group that has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). This group announced itself last month, and has promised to strike American interests and the "worshippers of the Cross" in Egypt.

There had been a few months of relative peace in the Sinai due to an economic outreach to the Bedouin tribes living there and to the stationing of Egyptian troops, now numbering 7,000. Friday's attack are thus considered a major setback for the government.

Al-Sisi gave a speech on Saturday saying that the "foreign-funded operation" was an existential attack on Egypt:

"A plot is being woven against all of us. All that is happening has been expected. Egypt is battling a huge war a battle of existence. We should remain united; one hand, one heart. ...

We must know that this terrorist attack was supported by foreign hands to defeat the military that has been protecting the Egyptian people and their will. ...

I have noted before that the war in Sinai will last for a long time, as there are a lot of terrorists hiding in the peninsula, but this new level of attacks has put us in a new level of planning too in order to combat the terrorism there.

There are attempts to drive a wedge between the people and the army. No-one will be able to divide the Egyptian people and its army."

Al-Sisi did not name any specific groups in his statement, but he doesn't distinguish between the Muslim Brotherhood, and external jihadist groups. Al-Sisi is promising to take "many measures" suppress terror attacks. One proposed measures would allow military courts used to try civilians accused of offences such as blocking roads or attacking public property. Middle East Eye and VOA and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Newsweek

Sinai attack signals the end of Gaza peace agreement terms

When the Gaza war ended with a cease-fire agreement ( "27-Aug-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas agree to 'long-term' truce in Gaza war"), the following were the terms:

Senior Hamas officials have been accusing Israel of purposely delaying the implementation of this agreement. Much of Gaza's infrastructure and housing was destroyed by airstrikes during the Gaza war, and Israel is particularly accused of delaying the shipment of construction materials into Gaza for use in rebuilding.

Egypt is accusing Hamas of being behind Friday's terrorist attack, which Hamas denies. Egypt has now closed the Rafah crossing, which connects Gaza to Egypt, and opening this crossing had been a major demand of Hamas in the ceasefire negotiations. But now, unnamed Egyptian officials are promising to go much farther.

Egypt is said to be planning to set up a buffer zone of between 1.5 and 3 kilometers along the Gaza border. Forces are expected to start evicting people and clearing structures in the proposed buffer zone, which will then be heavily guarded by Egyptian army patrols.

The objective of the buffer zone would be to make infiltration from Gaza into Sinai more difficult. In particular, it would be more difficult to rebuild the smuggling tunnels that have been built under the wall that separates Gaza from Sinai. The Egyptian army has been destroying these tunnels when it finds them, and the buffer zone would mean that any new tunnel would have to be much longer, and require a longer time to build. Times of Israel

Hamas reports that it's resumed work on restoring tunnels used in Gaza war

Hamas tunnel (Memri)
Hamas tunnel (Memri)

Hamas media is reporting that its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, is actively working on restoring the attack tunnels used in the Gaza war, after many of them were destroyed during the war. The Hamas media report indicates that there are two kinds of tunnels:

According to the report:

"The Al-Qassam Brigades use the tunnels for several military missions, such as: firing rockets on Israeli cities; firing massive barrages of hundreds of mortars on the settlements around the Gaza Strip, and carrying out quality operations behind enemy lines that have resulted in the killing and capture of soldiers and terrorized millions of Israelis."

The report adds that Gaza is ready for a new war with Israel. Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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