CAIRO: A delegation from Sinai’s Bedouin tribes is expected to meet with the Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly this week in an effort to diffuse tensions between state forces and Bedouins in Sinai.
The proposed meeting comes after a week that saw two incidents of clashes between Bedouins and security forces in the Wadi Amr area that led to the temporary closure of Al-Oja crossing.
Member of the Tarabin tribe and Bedouin spokesman Moussa El-Dilh told Daily News Egypt Monday, “The police are trying to provoke the Bedouins, raiding our homes and shooting up water tanks. They’re trying to find a reason to increase the number of troops in the area.”
Also this past week, a Bedouin was killed by Israeli forces Saturday for allegedly attempting to infiltrate the border along with some others who were deemed drug smugglers, and just last Sunday, the state accused Bedouins of attempting to sabotage an oil pipeline south of Al-Arish.
Explosives were planted underneath the pipeline and detonated. They did not cause a leak in the pipeline, only slight structural damage to the pipe casing.
The alleged smuggler killed by Israeli forces and whose body is due to be returned via Al-Oja crossing was identified as 18 year-old Salman Attiya Salman Ubaidallah of the Tiyaha tribe.
“He’s 18 and they’ve made him out to be a drug kingpin,” El-Dilh said, “They exaggerate matters to make us look worse. There’s no development for Bedouins and some have no choice but to grow drugs to make a living.”
A shootout ensued on the road leading to Al-Oja crossing last Monday between security forces and armed Bedouins in which at least two passersby were injured.
After security forces raided the village of Wadi Amr near the crossing at dawn in search of Bedouins wanted by the state or tried in absentia, a group of them held up the road leading to Al-Oja crossing.
Security forces converged and the two sides exchanged gunfire, which mainly hit truck drivers caught in the crossfire. The two injuries sustained were by drivers passing by.
“They raided my home as well as others in Wadi Amr and accused me of hiding wanted fugitives,” El-Dilh said.
Then on Sunday, security officials accused Bedouins of attacking a humanitarian convoy bound for Gaza after another raid in search of wanted fugitives that led to a shootout and three vehicles being set on fire.
El-Dilh said, “No one is preventing any convoys from going through. There were incidents at Al-Oja crossing but with police forces. Maybe the convoy was caught in the crossfire.”
The main suspect state forces are searching for is Salem Ali Salem, known as Salem Abu Lafi, a man who escaped from police clutches last February during his transfer to another prison, an incident which led to the death of two policemen.
It took place during a prisoner transfer from Ismailia to Al-Arish. Armed Bedouins in three cars attacked the bus in an area called Be’er El Abd, killing officer Ahmed Osama Hafez of the criminal division unit of North Sinai, and a policeman while two other policemen were wounded.