Military leaders meet Bedouin tribes, promise development in Sinai

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CAIRO: Members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and other military commanders met late Saturday in Al-Arish with Bedouin tribesmen and political party representatives to discuss tension on the borders.

They said that the meeting aimed at listening to Sinai Bedouins and present plans for the development of Sinai, easing regulations on land ownership and Bedouin admission into the military and police academies.

"Egypt has changed and the proof is the reaction to the death of Egyptian soldiers on the Israeli borders is different from how it was before the revolution; we know what Sinai suffers from and we came to achieve security," said Staff Major General Ibrahim Al-Noshy, SCAF member and head of the Sinai development committee.

"The purpose of the visit is to improve Sinai and listen to Sinai citizens on their participation in protecting the country; we already know their problems and are working on meeting their demands," he added.

He said that the government is working on providing job opportunities, integrating Sinai in the economic system and attracting investments.

The development of Sinai has emerged as a priority amid poor security conditions that saw attacks on a police station in Arish allegedly committed by Sinai-based Islamist extremist groups.

Five Egyptian policemen died Thursday while monitoring the borders with Israel sparking public anger as demonstrators in front of the Israeli Embassy demanded cutting ties with the Jewish state and the expulsion of its ambassador reached its third day.

Israel said that the shooting occurred "by mistake" while pursuing Palestinians and accused Egypt of failing to efficiently control security in Sinai.

Egyptian security forces launched a campaign earlier to crack down on extremist Islamist groups.

Second Army Commander Staff Major General Mohamed Hegazy, said they started increasing security along the border.

North Sinai Governor Abdel Wahab Mabrouk said that they are terminating the files of 300 cases of draft dodgers and ending 31 criminal court rulings and 139 rulings in absentia.

General Ahmed Youssef, the Commander of Border Guards, said that there are new regulations to control the borders with Israel. He added that the borders cannot be controlled 100 percent, emphasizing that peace keeping forces in the area did not record any violations from the Egyptian side.

He said that the armed forces approved the establishment of a fishing harbor west of Al-Arish, another fishing zone in Rommana over an area of 40,000 square meters and two tourist resorts in Rafah and Sheikh Zeweid.

The armed forces launched 15 projects in Sinai including a cement factory and a water sanitation station.

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