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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Egypt: Explosions in Northern Sinai and possible Egyptian-Israeli military cooperation

Egyptian Armed Forces in Sinai
Two huge explosions took place of Friday, 9 August, in Egyptian Northern Sinai in the area close to the Israeli border. The explosions happened at nearly 4 p.m. local time.
Egypt’s official Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Ali has confirmed these explosions on Friday.

There are conflicting reports regarding these explosions in the media and in the official statements as well as there are reports the explosions were a result of Israeli drone strike launched on Egyptian territory. Israel in its turn refuses to comment on the incident and to give the details and its authorities are being studying the reports regarding it.

Earlier on Friday Associated Press (AP) has shared the story stressing the explosions were a result of Israeli strike on the Egyptian territory which was launched in coordination with Egyptian Armed Forces in the framework of the fight against militants in Northern Sinai and indicates the new level in Egyptian-Israeli relationships and their military cooperation.

Israeli drone allegedly striked into Egyptian territory and
killed 5 militants
But later Egyptian authorities and Armed Forces officials have denied this information. Ahmed Ali, military’s spokesperson, has stressed that media should verify its information before publishing and denied all the reports about possible Israeli military activity on the Egyptian territory, despite the fact that earlier on Friday two Egyptian military officials, who remained anonymous as they were not authorized to speak with the press, announced Israel launched two strikes on Egyptian territory killing five Islamist militants.

The explosions taken place close to Rafah border with Gaza and Israel have reportedly destroyed rocket launcher set up near the border with Israel and aimed for the attack against the Jewish state.

There have been also the reports of witnesses that Egyptian military helicopter was seen circling in the area before and after the explosion.

The reports regarding possible cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian military regarding the Friday explosions and killing of the militants appeared again on Saturday, 10 August.

Thus, Al-Qaeda linked militant group based in Egypt’s Sinai made a statement of their official website on Saturday stating that the explosions were the result of Israeli drone strike which targeted Islamist militants on Egyptian territory and was launched in cooperation with Egyptian military. The militant organization has also stressed Egyptian helicopter has been seen patrolling the area before the Israeli drone strike and right after it. The militant organization claims the strike killed at least four members of the organizations, mostly Sinai tribesmen.

Egyptian military in the area
Israeli military officials though refused to comment on the details of the strike stressing that even if Israel was involved the authorities try to avoid embarrassing Egyptian military.

Later Egyptian authorities announced the Israeli drone attack on the territory of Sinai has been launched in cooperation and coordination with Egyptian side.

The situation in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula remains tense and dangerous since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in 2011, but after Egypt’s Islamist backed President Mohamed Morsy has been withdrawn from office by the military decree following massive demonstrations against him the situation in Sinai deteriorated significantly, with the daily attacks of armed militants and terrorists against Egypt’s security and armed forces. Nearly 60 people have been reportedly killed during this period of time, and the massive military operation has been launched in the region again.

As for the neighboring Israel, it has strengthen its security measures in the border area as the terrorist activities are considered being dangerous for the Jewish state as well and the threat of the terrorist attacks against Israel is higher nowadays.

On Thursday, 8 August, Israeli authorities have closed Eilat International airport, which is located close to Egyptian border, due to the reports from Egypt regarding the alleged terrorist attacks against Israel. Israeli Defense Forces have deployed the additional forces and also their Iron Dome facilities intercepting the rockets in the area.