Is Gaza flare up attempt to derail Egyptian operation against smuggling
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA 11 November 2012
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported last Friday (see below) that Egypt was about to
launch a major operation destroying smuggling tunnels to Egypt. While it is
difficult to know from the outside how serious this report really is (the
Egyptians - both under Mubarak and Morsi - claimed from time to time to be
embarking on major anti-tunnel operations with little actual impact on the
ground), if a major operation is indeed in the offing the Gazans would most
certainly like to find a way to derail it.
Sucking Israel into a major operation in Gaza would most certainly have the
potential to cause Morsi to indefinitely postpone Egypt's anti-tunnel
operation so as not to appear to be siding with Israel against the
A curious flip side of this: if indeed Morsi is serious about the
anti-tunnel operation out of Egyptian national security interests we may
find that Egypt somehow relates their implementation of the anti-tunnel
operation to the terms of a ceasefire that they broker between Israel and
Sinai Security Preparing to Destroy Most Dangerous Tunnels Between Egypt and
Gaza Within Days
Published in Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt) on: Fri, Nov 9, 2012
Translated on: Fri, Nov 9, 2012
Translated by: Naria Tanoukhi
Security sources have revealed that the security services in North Sinai
governorate are preparing to destroy the most dangerous underground tunnels
between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in the town of Rafah.
The location of these tunnels was determined via extremely accurate
intelligence and investigations. The sources noted that the extensive
security operation to demolish the tunnels will start in a few days.
The sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the security services are preparing
to carry out the attack on the criminal outposts located on the outskirts of
the towns of Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah with the assistance of
members of the Special Operations Forces and Special Military Forces. Heavy
weaponry will be used to crack down on militants wanted by the security
On the ground, additional reinforcements have reached North Sinai, including
army and police forces, to address the state of lawlessness in the
Witnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm that 14 armored vehicles belonging to the
armed forces arrived at the Security Directorate of North Sinai yesterday
[Nov. 8] evening, accompanied by over 20 microbuses carrying members of the
armed forces, three soldier carriers and police cars carrying officers and
soldiers sent by the Interior Ministry.
Dozens of police cars were seen patrolling the area of Jisr al-Wadi in the
city of Al-Arish, where policemen were attacked last week as a number of
fully-armed soldiers deployed at the bank of Wadi al-Arish.
Some tribal chieftains in North Sinai said that the tunnels between Egypt
and the Gaza Strip are behind the phenomenon of lawlessness in the
governorate. They demanded the closure of the tunnels that are operating at
full capacity, particularly the tunnels through which individuals pass to
and from the Gaza Strip, which increase chaos and diminish security.
They added that security will not return to the Sinai as long as the state
of lawlessness is being addressed by "painkillers," rather than conclusive
solutions to the problems. They stressed that Sinai today is out of security
In other news, Israeli companies issued a decree banning Nigerian tourists
visiting Jerusalem from heading to Sinai from its territories due to the
recent events in Sinai. A large number of tourist companies that have
operated such trips for years were affected by the decree. The number of
Nigerian tourists who visit Nuweiba, Taba and Israel reach nearly 40,000 a
Sami Salman, head of the Nuweiba and Taba Investors Association, called on
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou to
intervene. Egypt did not ban tourists of different nationalities from
visiting Sinai to head to Jerusalem since the areas of Nuweiba and Taba are
safe and did not witness security incidents.
Salman said that they were surprised to see Israeli companies preventing
Nigerian tourists from visiting the Sinai, especially Nuweiba, Taba and St.
Catherine, since the beginning of November.
Jasser Riad, board member of the Chamber of Travel and Tourism Companies and
Agencies, said that the decision had a negative impact on many tourism
companies operating in this field, as many companies depend on this type of
Jasser called for swift intervention by Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou and
the Egyptian government to save the situation and cancel the decision.