Two soldiers were shot dead while on patrol in North Sinai on Thursday, according to Reuters. They were shot near the border with Gaza, in a town called Sheikh Zuwaid. It is not clear yet who was responsible for their deaths.
The Associated Press (AP) said Islamist militants were responsible for the deaths. However, Reuters reported the killing was committed by two Bedouins on a motorbike with their faces covered.
Bloomberg cited a security official as saying that the attackers managed to get away without being injured. The town of Sheikh Zuwaid, located near the Rafah crossing, is the site of repeated bombings of a gas pipeline transporting gas to Israel.
Sinai is suffering from a tense security situation as it is considered a major smuggling hub for weapons. Most of the weapons were said to be sent to Libya and Gaza.
There are also tensions between residents of the Peninsula and the police. Before the uprising, many Sinai residents were sentenced to harsh prison sentences in absentia. Abdel Rahman El Masry, an 6 April (Ahmed Maher) activist in North Sinai, said that while residents were commonly sentenced with very harsh sentences, “this was mostly before the 2011 uprising, now they engage in negotiations in order to resolve the tensions.”
However, according to Reuters, the police have been largely absent in Sheikh Zuwaid ever since the uprising and security in Sinai has deteriorated since.
Israel has increased its security measures along the Egyptian Israeli border, installing rocket interceptors known as the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel is also ordering the speeding up of the building of a border fence along the Egyptian-Israeli border.
Correction: Abdel Rahman El Masry previously referred to as a member of 6 April Democratic Front is not. He is a member of 6 April (Ahmed Maher).