CAIRo: In a tumultuous 24 hours in Sinai and the Gaza Strip near the border, four people died in three separate incidents and at least seven others were injured. Additionally, eight prisoners escaped after their transport vehicle came under attack.
A Sudanese migrant died Tuesday night in the first of the incidents when clashes broke out between border guards and a smuggling gang 12 km south of the Rafah border crossing. The smugglers were accompanied by a number of African migrants trying to enter Israel.
The smugglers and migrants managed to escape back into Egyptian territory. However, Sudanese Ismail Ibrahim Mohamed Tirab, 27, was gunned down by the border guards, allegedly while trying to infiltrate the border. Three days earlier another unidentified migrant had also been killed at the border.
Early on Wednesday, a Palestinian was killed when a tunnel running under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed with him inside. Israel had been bombing targets nearby the day before. The Israeli air raids on Tuesday had injured three people in the Gaza strip.
And later on Wednesday, two police officers were killed and four others were injured as they were transporting prisoners across North Sinai and came under attack by armed assailants. Eight of the transported prisoners managed to escape.
The two policemen killed were Ahmed Nour Salem, 28, and Sayed Gharib Ismail, 25. The extent of injuries to the four other policemen is not yet known.
The most prominent detainee to escape was Salem Abu Lafi of the Tarabin tribe, a ringleader behind Bedouin protests in 2006 but later accused by other Bedouins of collaborating with the police. All roads to Rafah were closed in the wake of the attack and people are expecting a surge in security raids in the area in the coming few days.
Tagammu party member in North Sinai Khalil Jabr Sawarkeh told Daily News Egypt Wednesday that all these incidents “have become normal cases in the circumstances we are currently living in.
Residents in North Sinai have long complained of the continued security crackdown on them that has led to the deterioration in the relationship between them and the state.
Residents have a long list of grievances beside the security raids, including lack of development in the area and the state’s refusal to recognize land ownership, especially along the border with Gaza and Israel.
This has been further compounded by the large number of tunnels that permeate the border between North Sinai and the Gaza strip, and the increased suspicion this has brought on the residents in the area.
“It seems that the solution for Sinai is to solve the Palestinian issue. They are connected geographically, politically and security-wise and you can’t solve one without the other, Sawarkeh said.