Egypt Launches Eid al-Fitr Crackdown in Sinai

Fearing increased violence as Ramadan comes to a close, Egyptian security forces in Sinai have launched a new crackdown.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Egyptian Army in Sinai
Egyptian Army in Sinai
Flash 90

Egyptian security sources Tuesday said forces continue to raid terrorist strongholds in Sinai as part of a special operation on the event of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

The operation includes some 1,500 soldiers as well as tanks and armored vehicles, Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.

The newspaper noted Egyptian security forces have raised the level of alert due to concerns their will be acts of violence during the holiday. They are scanning the border area, Rafiah, El-Arish, Sheikh Zweid and are working alongside Bedouin tribal leaders who are trying to convince the Jihad operatives to abandon violence.

Meanwhile, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned that terrorists might take the opportunity of Eid al-Fitr to carry out attacks on Israel. "The Defense establishment has received a warning that a terror cell in Sinai, comprised of more than 10 terrorists, is to attempt to carry out an attack," he said. "The Defense establishment is taking action to thwart this attempt."

On Monday, it was reported that Egypt and Israel agreed to increase the number of Egyptian soldiers in the peninsula's areas B and C.  Area A is the section adjoining Egypt’s border with Israel.

But the move has drawn subdued criticism from Israeli lawmakers, with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) saying the move, undertaken by Defense Minister Ehud Barak with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's approval, may require Knesset approval.

On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz ordered a reinforcement of military presence in the Israel-Egypt border and the southern Gaza Strip following information suggesting an Islamic Jihad cell posed an imminent threat in the area.

IDF sources say Israel has sent messages to all relevant parties that its policy of restraint will not go on forever, and that additional terror attacks will be met with a harsh response.