Top Expert: Disengagement Led to Sinai Islamism
The Islamic fanaticism that has overtaken many Bedouins of the Sinai desert – and the resultant terror attacks – are a direct result of Israel's 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, according to veteran Middle East analyst Ehud Ya'ari.
Interviewed on IDF Radio, Ya'ari explained that the Bedouins were never particularly pious Muslims. He quoted Naoom Shukeir, a British intelligence agent who was sent to the Sinai desert over 100 years ago, who wrote: "I would not have believed that the Bedouins were Muslims, had someone not occasionally mentioned the prophet Muhammad, because they do not even know how to pray."
That is where they come from. And now we see these people who never had a great affinity to Islam, and certainly not to fanaticism and fundamentalism – and some of them have undergone a transformation. Now, we can lie to ourselves a thousand times as to why it happened. I will tell you why it happened, because that is what I hear from the Bedouins themselves.
It happened because of the Disengagement in 2005. Ashraf Anani, one of the most prominent Bedouin intellectuals in Sinai, and these do exist, put it this way. He says, "The fireball began rolling from Gaza to Egypt (Sinai). First of all, northeastern Egypt became intertwined with Gaza's economy, through the smuggling and tunnel industry. And secondly, ideological influence flowed from the Salafist organizations in Gaza to the tribes in Sinai. That is what happened."