By Nasser Al-Azazy
Security in the Sinai along Egypt’s border with Israel is on high alert in anticipation of possible attacks by armed groups against Israeli targets. It is thought that the groups may seek revenge after Hisham Al-Saedni, a Salafi leader, was killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.
Witnesses near the border said that over the last few days they have seen Israeli military patrols through the day and night on the Israeli side of the border. Witnesses also claim they have seen Israeli aircraft flying around the area for the last two weeks and this has intensified over the last three days.
This increased security presence on the Israeli side has come after the Israeli army claimed responsibility for killing Al-Saedni. He was the commander of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Tawhid and Jihad group, which has carried out a number of attacks in the Sinai. One man from Rafah affirmed he had seen an Israeli Zeppelin flying over the border.
Some security sources in North Sinai say that they have received instruction to raise the level of vigilance in the area. Intelligence had been received regarding the intentions of groups to carry out armed attacks in the Sinai, targeting security headquarters in northern Sinai, the police, and the army. It was also claimed that the groups may use new methods to carry out these attacks.
Tribal elders and representatives of Salafi groups in the Sinai confirmed the security services had met with them. One of the group said that the security forces asked them to try to “prevent armed militants from carrying out operations against Israel as this would cause Egypt much embarrassment before the world.”
The security sources believed tribal elders and Salafi leaders have ways of communicating with Salafi armed groups.
Late last month the group “Ansar Jerusalem” released a statement claiming responsibility for an armed attack on the border with Israel, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding another. All three attackers were also killed. The group vowed to launch another attack on Israel in order to avenge the death of Ibrahim Aweidah, a militant who was assassinated by
Egypt has recently reinforced its security presence in northern Sinai as part of a broad campaign to eliminate criminal activity after an attack on 5 August which resulted in the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers in an operation targeting an Egyptian army check point near the Israeli border.
Additional reporting by Joel Gulhane