The security situation in Sinai and along the Egypt-Israel frontier is rapidly going from bad to worse. The Islamist coalition’s war on Egyptian police and military positions has gone far beyond the isolated strikes here and there reported by official spokesmen, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
Hundreds of Salafist Bedouin, Muslim Brotherhood adherents and Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters from the Gaza Strip have joined forces to block northern Sinai’s key road arteries. They have stopped traffic to the Egyptian-Israeli border terminal at Nitzana, to the US-led multinational national observer base at Al Gora near El Arish, and to the big cement factory built by the Egyptian military in El Arish which is the region’s main source of employment.
By blocking those roads, the Islamist fighters have choked off the movement of goods between Egypt and Israel and placed 1,000 MFO troops, including some American officers, under siege. Any vehicle driving in or out of Al Gora comes under anti-tank rocket fire. Flyers have been distributed forbidding locals to take jobs with Egyptian security forces or MFO.
The Islamists are now attacking Egyptian military and security targets at the rate of 30 strikes a day, traveling at speed between targets in minivans on which rocket launchers and heavy machine guns are mounted, or using motorbikes for raiders brandishing rocket-propelled grenades.