|Egyptian Armed Forces in Sinai|
Egypt’s Armed Forces held on Saturday, 8 September 2012, their special press-conference regarding the issues of the ongoing military “Operation Eagle” launched in Sinai.
After deadly attack on the border with Gaza which took place on 5 August and left 16 Egyptian border guards dead and 7 wounded and was one of the deadliest since the times of Arab-Israeli war Egyptian Armed Forces started launching a massive military offensive in Sinai region in order to fight the militants operating there and to eliminate the terrorist network. The operation is headed by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy and by Egypt’s Defense Minister and current head of SCAF Abdel Fatah El-Sissi.
The ongoing “Operation Eagle” is of the most massive military operations conducted by Egyptian military and security forces in Sinai during last times. The additional troops, tanks, heavy weapons and armored vehicles were deployed in the region, with the using of air force as well. During the operation the military representatives reported about the killings and arrests of those suspected of the 5 August border attack and of the following series of clashes between armed militants and Egyptian security forces happened in different cities located in Sinai.
But the ongoing military operation faced also a wave of criticism with some claims that those maneuvers did not bring any efforts in fact. Another reason for criticism was that the operation was temporally halted at the end of August due to the Eid celebrations, and some troops and units were pulled back to their previous positions.
According to the statements of Egyptian military the operation in Sinai will continue, and the Armed Forces are willing to ensure that the information about the ongoing operation is fully available for media, thus they are planning to hold such press-conferences reporting about the latest developments of the offensive in Sinai, said Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali, official spokesperson of Egyptian Armed Forces.
Ahmed Mohamed Ali announced during the press-conference that Egypt’s Armed Forces have killed 32 suspected militants since the beginning of the military operation and arrested 38 people accused of preparing and conducting the armed attacks in Sinai. 20 of them were released later.
In addition to that Egyptian Army has also found and confiscated a huge amount of guns and different weapons, along with the boxes with Israeli made ammunition and the armored vehicle. The Security Forces are also trying to cooperate with the local Bedouins, and some of them gave their weapons to the military too.
The network of underground tunnels connecting Egyptian Sinai desert with the neighboring Gaza and used for smuggling during the long time was also demolished in the framework of the ongoing military operation in Sinai. The terrorists and extremist elements were allegedly using those tunnels to infiltrate Egyptian territory, so the order came to start the operation of destroying the tunnels. The order was given by Mohamed Hussein Tantawy, Egypt’s ex-Defense Minister and ex-Head of SCAF, now retired. The official spokesperson of Egypt’s Military Forces announced during the press-conference that 31 tunnels were demolished during the operation.
|Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali, official|
spokes person of Egypt's Armed Forces
on Egyptian state TV
It’s also worth mentioning that Egypt was accused by the neighboring Israel of violating the terms of Camp David peace treaty due to Egyptian military maneuvers conducted in Sinai, especially deploying the tanks and heavy weapons what is forbidden according to the peace treaty. There were reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a sharp official letter to Cairo calling for immediate removal of Egyptian tanks deployed in the Northern Sinai. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in his turn said on 30 August that he expected that Egyptian Armed Forces will withdraw all the additional troops and tanks from Sinai territory after the operation will be finished.
Israel generally welcomed the move of Egypt to fight the terrorists and criminal activity in Sinai, especially in the light of current events, when the security situation in Sinai worsened significantly after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. But the Jewish state is concerned with the deployment of Egyptian heavy weapons in the region; as such moves should be considered and coordinated with the Israeli side according to the terms of Camp David peace treaty.
But Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali, Egypt’s Army’s spokesperson, assured that there are no violations of the peace treaty, as the deployment of the additional troops to the territory in Sinai are necessary for restoring the security and stability there. Egyptian side claims the deployment of the troops and tanks were coordinated with Israel, and Egypt received an approval from IDF. The ongoing military operation is launched for the defending of the rights of Sinai inhabitants, Egyptian citizens.
According to the statements of Army’s official spokesperson the “Operation Eagle” will continue in Sinai until the situation will become stable in the region and the security will be restored and maintained. Egyptian Armed Forces will also hold the press-conferences in the future to make sure that the military operation is covered by media.