Insecurity in North Sinai, even if Cairo’s government has declared the state of emergency after Palm’s attacks, threats continue. An Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber attacked a tribal checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, killing four members of a powerful local tribe and wounding others, Egyptian security officials said. This new attack against local tribes follows recent clashes which took place in the area last week, with conflict opposing Bedouin tribes and IS.
In a highly unusual move, Israel shut down the Taba Crossing to Israelis trying to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on the eve of Passover on Monday, citing fears of an imminent terror attack by the Islamic State terror group. Israel announced the closure of the border for at least one week (until next Thursday). However, thousands of Israelis were expected to pass the border for the Passover Holidays. The closure was ordered by Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, after discussion with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other security officials. Since the official opening of the border in 1982, it had been closed few times, the last one had been in 2014.
Army units affiliated to the second field army launched a military sweeping operation on Tuesday in some regions in North Sinai that left six militants killed. The campaign targeted militants and other suspects who are involved in terrorising civilians in North Sinai’s cities. According to the statement that was released by the official spokesperson of the army, the Air Forces struck against four stationing points associated with militants; other forces also discovered and destroyed two tunnels inside the city of Rafah. “Army forces also managed to blow up a storage that contained motorbikes used by militants, as well as detonating four Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) that had been prepared to be used against army and police forces moving around North Sinai”, the army spokesperson’s statement read. Meanwhile, the continuous sweeping operations of the army inside the city of Al-Arish targeted areas used by the militants as stationing points and centres from where they launched their Attacks. The sweeping operation continued through a number of farms inside the city of Al-Arish that were regularly used as hiding places for militants, who are believed to be members of the IS affiliated group of ‘Sinai Province’. The operation resulted in the injury of an army officer and five other conscripts due to an IED explosion that targeted their armoured vehicle.
Massive controversy and outrage dominated Egypt’s social media outlets on Tuesday following the circulation of statements from a prominent Israeli minister, who claimed on his twitter account that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US president Donald Trump will discuss a plan to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and the Sinai peninsula and not in the West Bank. The Israeli minister Ayoub Kara added that Netanyahu agreed with him regarding the plan and that he will open discussions with Trump on it. In response to the statements from the Israeli minister, former Egyptian foreign affairs minister Mohammed Al-Orabi asserted that these statements are meaningless and have nothing to do with reality.“These statements should not be considered important by the officials in Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it does not have anything to do with reality and would be refused by Egypt’s authorities and the international community if they were proposed” Al-Orabi said.