Strategic studiesTerrorism issues

Map of the fighting groups in Sinai peninsula and their future

Since 2012, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is experiencing a large-scale military and security operations, in which the Egyptian army has targeted different armed groups operating in the region for many years. As these terrorist groups launch a military attacks, operations and activities that destabilize the region, and raise the security threat risks associated with Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, which makes the situation in the peninsula extremely sensitivity, because the region is boundary triangle includes the three states, which necessitates a greater efforts to reduce such threat to the national security of those countries, especially Egypt.

On the other hand, the importance of this region is closely related to global economic security, because it is located along the Suez Canal that is considered as the gateway towards the Mediterranean, especially after the recent expansion of the Canal, under Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi, as it included in the future agenda of several countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and become associated with drawing a safer shipping routes that accommodate the heavy oil-tanker traffic and other ships, therefore ensuring the security in Sinai peninsula is considered as one of the most important priorities to move forward in building these agendas and other projects.

Sinai peninsula is very important for Israel as well, as it considers that the peninsula is ideologically associated with the Jewish religion, where the extremist parties and other groups hold every year on 23 of April “funeral ceremonies to commemorate the second exodus of Jews from Sinai and the anniversary of the demolition of the Yamit settlement, which was one of the largest Zionist settlements established in Sinai after its occupation in 1967, in view of Sinai falls within the territories of Torah. [1]).

The situation in the peninsula become a complicated dossier, especially with the arrival of late president Mohamed Morsi to the power, during which the armed groups have publicly started their activities and targeted the pipeline that connecting Israel and Egypt, which Egyptian gas is exported to the latter through such pipelines. When the president  Abdel Fattah El-Sisi came to power in Egypt, this dossier become more sensitive, due to the growing activities of the armed groups in Sinai and their threat to the border region. Therefore, Israel became more concerned than before with the developments and events taking place in Sinai to reduce the threatening risks to its national security.

Furthermore, Sinai dossier is mainly associated with Gaza Strip, because the groups operating in Sinai are exploiting the state of security confusion existing between the borders of the Strip and Egypt to finance their activities and maintain their survival. Accordingly, the activities of these factions have increased and constituted an increasing danger for Gaza Strip after the emergence of “Wilayat Sinai”, an affiliate of the armed extremist group Islamic State ISIS, which made the situation in Sinai more sensitive and complicated.

While the question arises about the effectiveness of the Egyptian military operations targeting the activities of those armed groups, and about their effectiveness to reduce the risks resulting from launching a large-scale campaigns in border region, which necessitate a greater security and political coordination between the following: Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt, which hindered, in one way or another, the course of these operations and prolonged them to the present time.

In a related context, “administratively, Sinai is divided into two governorates, the first of which is North Sinai Governorate, and it includes 6 districts: Rafah, Sheikh Zuwaid, Al-Arish, Bir al-Abed, Al-Hasna, and Nakhl, with a total population of 445.000 persons. The second governorate, is South Sinai governorate, which includes 8 districts and 9 towns : Abu Redis, Abu Zenimah, Ras Sidr, Al-Tur, Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba, and St. Catherine, with a total population of approximately 170 thousand persons. While there are a cities and neighbourhoods belong to other governorates such as: Port Fouad, which is affiliated to Port Said Governorate, the city of Qantara Shark, which is affiliated to Ismailia Governorate, and Ganayen neighbourhood which is affiliated to Suez Governorate” ([2]).

A detailed map of Sinai Peninsula No. (1)

https://barq-rs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A1.jpg

Armed groups and organizations in Sinai

Several armed factions are active in Sinai, taking advantage of the nature of the terrain in the area that is divided into wide plains called the Plains of the North, the Highlands region in the centre of Sinai that occupies half of Sinai, and heights or mountains region in the south, where it include several mountain peaks. Which facilitates smuggling the weapons, as each of the three regions is clearly distinguished from the rest in terms of terrain, natural components and activity of the inhabitants that is close to the tribal life ([3]).

In addition to, fragility of security situation, due to the peace agreement with Israel signed at Camp David in 1979([4]), forty years ago, which restricted the movements of the army in the peninsula. Moreover, the security vulnerability after the country entered the phase of change in January 2011 when the Egypt’s military and security agencies witnessed a structural changes. Accordingly, the previous factors led to the emergence of several armed groups, the most prominent of which are:

Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra Group

It considered as one of the oldest armed group in Egypt, as it established in the early of seventies in Egypt, under the leadership of “Shukri Mustafa”, who comes from the governorate of Assiut, and called for the necessity of rejecting a society that is far from adhering to the Sharia and abandoned all customs, beliefs and lands, contrary to administration of justice. The group’ ideas are very extreme and have discrepancies in their literature with other organizations such as Al Qaeda. In 1977, the leader of the group was arrested through a security ambush and he was sentenced to death in connection with kidnapping and killing of the former mufti of Egypt Hussein al-Dhahabi. Consequently, the group’s activities was undermined by a series of security operations that led to the arrest of its main members([5]).

In 2011([6])،, the group re-emerged, under the name of “Black Flags organization”, probably after bombing Al-Arish police station on July 29, 2011. This organization is active in the central of Sinai and the border strip, but its effectiveness compared to other armed organizations is not strong, due to the rifts and intellectual transformations that have occurred within the group of Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra since the execution of its founder, Shukri Mustafa. Furthermore, the group is closing in on itself, and does not establish a channels of communications with other organizations, which made its activity is largely unknown. The information also indicates that its members have not the adequate training and equipment such as that received by the rest of the jihadi groups, and a leader of Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra called “Abdel Fattah Hassan Hussein Salem” has been also arrested in Sinai with one of his assistants and other members in 2013 by the Egyptian army forces([7]).

Jama’at al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad

It has established in 1977 in Al-Arish by “Khaled Masaad” and “Nasr Khamis Al-Malachi,” who called and mobilized for jihad against the Israelis, especially after the events of the first Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, and the name of the group was inspired by the organization that founded by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in Iraq which known as “Jama’at al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad” [8]).

By 2004, about 100 of young people had been and recruited as cells in Al-Arish, Rafah, Sheikh Zuwayed, Nakhl, Jabal Al-Halal and Al Tal Al-Kabeer. At that time, the organization’s activity traforsormed from mobilization to attack. On October 7, the organization carried out three simultaneous terrorist operations with a car bombs targeting Israeli tourists at the Taba Hilton Hotel and two tourist camps in Nuweiba, killing 34 people, including 22 Israelis, 9 Egyptians, Italians, and Russians, in addition to wounding 158 Others ([9]).

The organization also carried out a series of terrorist operations in 2005, including the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings that targeted Ghazala Hotel and the commercial market in Sharm El-Sheikh, and a tourist cafeteria in Naama Bay area. In addition to an attack on a site belonging to the multinational forces in the Sinai nearby Al-Joura Airport in 2005, in which the founder of the organization, Khaled Musaed, was killed, which weakened the group’s activity, especially after the Egyptian security agencies launched a series of large-scale raids against the group’s members ([10]).

The operations of Jama’at al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad was not limited to Sinai only, but the organization returned to exercise its activities publicly in Gaza Strip, when an armed group calling itself the “Company of the Companion of Muhammad al-Muslimah” kidnapped and killed the Italian humanitarian activist, “Vittorio Arrigoni” in Gaza Strip in March 2011, demanded the release of its detainees, including the leader of Jama’at al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad, Hisham Al-Sa’idni, who was arrested in March 2011, then Hamas released him in August 2012 [11])،, but he was assassinated by Israel in the Gaza Strip in October [12]).

Furthermore, Jama’at al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad announced its return to exercise its activity in Sinai in mid-2011, especially when it launched two attacks against a police station and a bank in the city of Arish in June and July 2011, killing 7 people. As a result, the Egyptian authorities arrested 14 people accused of planning and carrying out the attack, and they Sentenced to death in August 2012 ([13]). .It is believed that it was a stunning blow for the group. As a result, it has allied with a number of other armed organizations, the most important of which was Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, and it contributed to the formation of Wilayat Sinai that affiliated with the Islamic State, to maintain its presence.

The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem

Its formation was announced in a footage in in June 2012, calling for “thwarting all the nation’s enemies that stalking it, and their minions of traitors and all of defeatist, there is no room for patriotism, nationalism, secularism or democracy anymore, Rather, it is the battle of Muslims to restore God’s rule on the earth and restore the nation’s glories and its domination over all humanity”. In addition to, encouraging the targeting of Israel and the Jews.

The council claimed responsibility for the first operation under the name “The Battle of Al-Nusra for Al-Aqsa and Prisoners” in the same month in 2012, when two of its members stormed the headquarter of an Israeli patrol on the Israeli border and detonated an explosive device and attacked the barrier with anti-tank shells and medium machine guns ([14]). In November 2012, the council also claimed responsibility for the operation of launching 5 rockets from Sinai against Israel ([15]).

In response, the United States of America included the Council in the lists of terrorist organizations in 2014, and the State Department announced that “this organization is a coalition of jihadi organizations based in Gaza and has claimed responsibility for many attacks against Israel since its establishment in 2012 ([16]). The announcement indicated that there is a connection between the Council and the jihadist “ Jund Ansar Allah ” in the Gaza Strip and in Rafah, which is led by “Abd al-Latif Musa [17]). In 2009, from the pulpit of the Mosque “Al Tawba” they announced the establishment of “ the Islamic Emirate in the Environs of Jerusalem ([18]) , this announcement illustrated the connection, as both of them share in the title “the Environs of Jerusalem”. In addition to the headquarter which it is located in Gaza, which means that the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem is an extension and a structural development of the “ Jund Ansar Allah”, which Hamas has fought and killed its leader, “Abd al-Latif Musa”. Moreover, the statement relating to their claiming responsibility for attacking an sraeli patrol in 2012 stated, “We dedicate this blessed battle to the brave and oppressed jihadist of Salafism in the proud land of Gaza.”

The information indicated that the Mujahideen Shura Council has “disintegrated after internal disagreements and divisions between two groups: The first joined the Islamic State” in Wilayat Sinai, and the second did not accept this. The disagreements escalated until it was agreed to separate from each other, and some of them established new groups in Gaza, but they were quickly eliminated by Hamas [19]).

Jund Al Islam

The organization prepared for its establishement since 2011 after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak ([20]), benefited from the lack of security in Libya, to train and recruit young people and collect weapons and equipment there, and it announced itself in September 2013, through claiming his responsibility for two car bomb attacks against two security sites, one of which is the intelligence headquarter, which left 6 deaths ([21]). Then the organization suddenly absented from the scene in Sinai, and it reappeared again in 2015, by publishing a video entitled “the way for pride 1” that included the launch of a Grad missile into Israel. The publication also included an excerpt from a speech to Abu Yahya al-Libi, a former leader of al-Qaeda, and then published in a publication entitled “the way for pride 2” In the middle of the same year, the organization published a video showing the targeting of Israeli settlements with missiles launched from Sinai ([22]), Then, at the end of 2015, the organization issued another footage entitled “Prepare”, which included scenes of the training for its militant elements building a checkpoint to check the identities of the car passengers, and an excerpt from the audio speech of Hisham Ashmawi, the prince of Gma’aet Al Morabeten , who refused to declare the allegiance of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group to ISIS. after then, the organization did not record any activity.

In late 2017, Jund Al-Islam reappeared through an audio recording titled “a military statement, claiming its responsibility for the security operation to expel Kharijes of Al-Baghdadi from Sinai.” The speech stated that the they attacked an elements of Walyat and killed them.  This announcement was considered as a new stage in the nature of the armed organizations in Sinai that were not seeking to fight among themselves, but the intellectual and administrative difference between the organizations that adopt the ideas of al-Qaeda and the organizations that adopt the ideas of the Islamic State appeared in Sinai between Jund al-Islam and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis “Sinai Province” Therefore, Jund al-Islam issued several publications in 2017 criticizing the behaviour of the Wilayat Sinai, and showing their willingness to fight those they considered “Kharijites”, in a scenario similar to what happened in Syria between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham “former Nusrah Front” and Islamic State ([24]).

Therefore, this fighting is likely to continue at an irregular pace, especially after the rifts occurred within the ranks of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis “Wilayat Sinai” as some of the dissidents joined Jund al-Islam, and the latter issued a footage entitled “apologize for your Lord,” for one of the defectors for one of “Wilayat Sinai” confessing that there are a major defections from “Wilayat Sinai” , in recent times, and there is a great desire of a large number of its elements to defect, but they do not know the way to do so ([25]).

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis “Islamic State of Sinai, ISIS”

The name of this organization dates back to 1997, when the Israeli Intelligence Security Agency, “the Shin Bet,” reported that; the first appearance of an organization holding the jihadist thought occurred in the Palestinian city of Nazareth, when a person named Sheikh “Nazim Abu Salim Skafa” was able to spread the Salafi thought there and formed a group “Ansar Allah Beit al-Maqdis – Nazareth” that included dozens of elements, whether in Nazareth or elsewhere within the Palestinian territories ([26]).. However, since then, no public activities for the organization have been recorded, but it is likely that it was planned and participated in terrorist bombings targeting hotels in which Israeli tourists were living in the Sinai Peninsula in 2004, at which time a group called the “International Islamic Group” claimed responsibility (attacks) ([27]).

 The name “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” reappeared when the Israeli Ministry of Defense on July 25, 2011 considered it a prohibited terrorist organization ([28]).. In August 2011, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Organization announced its presence in the Sinai Peninsula with video footage entitled “The Criterion Saga” in which the Organization targeted a an Israeli bus and a military vehicle heading to Eilat nearby the border strip and called this operation The Battle of Umm Al-Rashrash. At that time, the Organization continued its activities effectively and targeted several times the pipeline that carrying gas to Israel and Jordan, until 2013 the organization managed to significantly improve its organizational structure and recruited active cells inside Israel and the Gaza Strip and was able to smuggle weapons to its main area of influences in the Sinai ([29]). It also announced in the late of 2013 after removing the former president Mohamed Morsi and arresting him, that they blasphemed the Egyptian army, and called on all soldiers to flee from service ([30]).

In November 2014, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis announced its pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the formation of the “Wilayat Sinai” ([31]), a leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, called “Abu Musab Al-Gharib,” issued a booklet entitled “Come to the Sinai to rise Your State, which published by the Al-Bitar Foundation ([32]). affiliated to the ISIL. Al-Gharib in his booklet called on the establishment of jihad on the land of Sinai as it historically belonging to Levant, the main centre of the Islamic State. In April 2014, the United States of America Included the organization in the lists of terrorist organizations ([33]).

The organization is spread in “the caves of Jabal Al-Halal and in the village of Masoura in Rafah, Al-Kharouba, Al-Skaskah, the Green Valley in Sheikh Zuid and the farms in Al-Arish, and Umm Shehan in central Sinai, and the villages of Al-Khroum and Al-Ruwaisat in South Sinai. It is likely that most of the fighters of the organization are Egyptians, followed by the Palestinians, who comprise 20% to 30% of the elements, and there are also some Libyan and other foreign elements who come from African countries ([34]).

As for funding sources for armed organizations and groups in the Sinai, in general they depend mainly on security loopholes to smuggle weapons through the tunnels of Gaza Strip in the east, they rely on the sympathizers with them and those belonging to the Salafi jihadist ideology, and also through the Bedouin smugglers from inside Egypt, they depend on the equipment obtained from their attacks and ambushes on the barracks and barriers of the Egyptian or Israeli army to arm their troops, as well as resorting to the establishment of short time barriers to steal vehicles and cars. they also rely on donations, and some organizations, including Wilayat Sinai, carries out a suspicious operations such as drug and human trafficking ([35]).

Map No. (2) shows the locations of the elements of Wilayat Sinai

https://barq-rs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/%D8%A3%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%83%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B5%D8%B1-%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A1.png

Statistics and numbers about the attacks relating to the terrorist organizations

Until early 2012, the number of bombings and terrorist attacks by jihadi organizations had reached 35 attacks, most of which were in the northern Sinai Peninsula. At that time, the Supreme Military Council was ruling Egypt after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Since then, up to 2013, the number of terrorist operations reached 11 during the rule of the late President Mohamed Morsi. Until mid-2014, the violence against Egyptian churches increased, and the number of attacks reached 222. During the year 2015, that attacks reached 63, which ranged from targeting the army and police forces, judges, to the peacekeeping forces existing in the central of Sinai, among those operations was downing of a Russian passenger plane in the sky of the peninsula, which killed 224 people. While the number of the operations in 2016 reached 199, and since mid-2014 until 2017 they reached 1003 terrorist operations, and in 2017 about 110 ,but the number of operations decreased in 2018 to reach only 8 terrorist operations ([36]). The following is a table and chart relating to the most important attacks from 2014 to late 2018:

https://barq-rs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9.jpeg

Table No (1) ([37])

2014  2015 2016 2017 2018
– June 28, the third Rafah massacre, an ambush was placed on a road in the “Sidot” area nearby the border with Israel, the attackers inspected the passing cars and arrested the Egyptian Central Security officers, killing four conscripts while they were on their way to vacation with their families.   – On October 24, 2014, Beit Al-Maqdis Organization launched an attack against the security site “Karam Al-Qawadis” area, with a number of car bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, killing 31 Egyptian officers and soldiers. – On December 24, the armed organization – after pledging allegiance to Islamic State- broadcast a video showing the execution of two people for allegedly collaborating with the Egyptian army. – On January 11, some terrorist elements announced “ the kidnap of the Egyptian officer, Ayman Desouki, and the organization’s websites broadcast on the 26th of the same month a footage of the kidnap and the killing of the said officer”.   – On January 29, “101st Battalion”, and other security and military sites in the “Al-Salam” suburb of Al-Arish, were attacked with a number of car bombs and mortars, killing about 20 recruits. – In April, about 14 Egyptian soldiers was killed in 3 ISIS operations in North Sinai. – In June, 10 Missiles were fired at the “Al-Joura” airport in Sinai, which is an airport used by international peacekeepers. – On January 7: Islamic State, Wilayat Sinai, announced the bombing of the main gas pipeline in Al-Arish, which reaches Jordan.   – On June 30 – ISIS murdered a priest after he leaves a mass in the city of El-Arish. – On November 24, eight Egyptian soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded, in an attack on the “Kameen El Gas” area.   – On April 9, two terrorist bombings targetedMary Gerges Church in Tanta, and another church in Alexandria, killing and wounding dozens. – On July 7, the Egyptian army announced the death and injury of 26 of its forces in armed attacks targeting some of the army’s positioning area in north-eastern Sinai. – On October 21, an attack took place in the Al-Wahat area of Giza, killing about 55 Egyptian policemen. – On November 24, ISIS members of “Wilayat Sinai: affiliated to ISIS stormed al-Rawda mosque, which located at the east of Bir al-Abd in North Sinai, shot the worshipers randomly, killing more than 300 people in the mosque. “It is the largest attack in terms of the number of civilian victims in Egypt’s modern history.” – On January 3, an explosive device was detonated at an Egyptian army barrier in the Bir al-Abd area, killing an officer.   – On April 14, the Egyptian army said that eight members of its armed forces were killed and 15 wounded, when its forces were preventing a “major terrorist operation” in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula ([38]).   – On August 25, Four Egyptian soldiers were killed by an armed attack of ISIS elements in the coastal road area of Al-Arish. – On November 3, a terrorist attack took place targeting Christians while returning from a religious journey in a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 7 people and wounding others ([39]).  

The military operations that targeted the terrorist organizations

Armed groups pose a threat to the security of Egypt, Israel, and the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, the three sides are concerned with undermining the influence of these organizations, but the absence of tripartite coordination between them has led to emergence of gaps in the effectiveness of military and security operations targeting the terrorist activity. Egypt has carried the greatest burden in fighting these terrorist activities, and engaged the Egyptian army in several battles to achieve that end. The following is table including a list of the most important measures and actions that targeted the organizations accused of extremism in the Sinai by the three concerned actors :

Egypt Israel Gaza Strip
– In 2011, the Egyptian army launched the “Eagle” operation during the era of the late President Mohamed Morsi to undermine the activities of terrorist groups  ([41]).   – In August 2012, the Operation “Eagle 2” began after the terrorist attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, after which President Mohamed Morsi decided, at that time, to appoint Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as Minister of Defense after removing of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi  ([41]). .   The operation has taken a year until 2013, when Mohamed Morsi was overthrown and the Egyptian army made a partial restructuring, which affected the course of the operation and did not fully achieve its objectives. Despite Israel’ acceptance the Egyptian request to reinforce its forces in the Sinai, and to transfer military forces and heavy weapons to confront jihadist elements in the peninsula  ([42]).   – In 2014, the current president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, launched a security operation in Sinai to establish a buffer zone with Gaza Strip at a depth of 500 meters and a length of 14 kilometers in coordination with Israel; because the Camp David agreement “prevents Egypt from deploying combat forces in the Sinai region, and specifies the number of these forces in the Sinai However, Tel Aviv agreed to deploy Egyptian forces from the “777 and 999” divisions in the cities of Rafah and Al-Arish, in addition to other forces from the paratroopers and other forces. However, Hamas expressed concerns with regard to supporting this operation, fearing further restrictions on the Strip. The United States of America has announced its support for this operation  ([43]).   – In 2015, the second phase of the buffer zone operation, began to be implemented, which aimed to evacuate the border town of Rafah with the Gaza Strip and demolish it, which had already happened, with a view to establishing military positioning points for the Egyptian army, with the depth of the buffer zone to about one thousand km  ([44])..   – 2016 The Egyptian army announced the start of the operation “The Right of the Martyr” in Sinai  ([45]).   – 2017 it is announced the implementation of the third phase of the buffer zone, with a length of 15 km along the border with the Strip ([46]) . – In 2018, the Egyptian army launched, in cooperation with the security forces, “the comprehensive operation, Sinai 2018”, to target terrorism in the Sinai and some areas of the Delta ([47]).   It is estimated that more than 30,000 military personnel, from commandos units, elite, Second and Third Field Armies with hight degree of militarization, involved in this operation, alongside with 10,000 elements from the Ministry of Interior, with the support of air forces and aerial reconnaissance, in addition to, the involvement of the naval forces of Suez Canal in marine combing operations ([48]).   – Human rights violations have been documented in the Sinai Peninsula, according to Human Rights Watch, and during 2014-2015, such violations included the demolition of at least 3,225 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with the Gaza Strip, and the forced eviction of thousands persons. The Egyptian authorities also bulldozed about 685 hectares of cultivated agricultural land, depriving families of food and a source of livelihood, and stripping most of the border area of olive and palm trees and their traditional citrus groves ([49]). In addition, around 12,000 arrests were carried out since mid-2013  ([50]). – Israel has raised its security coordination level with Egypt to confront the extremist groups, allowed the increase of the troops and the military equipment for Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, and in February 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed that “the Cooperation between Cairo and Israel is at its highest level ([51]). According to media reports, the nature of this cooperation has been revealed, as the electronic espionage unit of the Israel Military Intelligence Division (AMAN) provides the Egyptian army with intelligence information obtained through the operations of drones or satellites ([52])..   – Israel launches undeclared air operations against the sites of jihadist organizations in the peninsula, such operations amounted between 2015 and 2018 100 air strikes, and all of them carried out in coordination with the Egyptian side ([53]). However, Israel denied this information ([54]).  , despite what was revealed by the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in 2017 when he confirmed that the Israeli Air Force carried out a raids inside Egyptian territory ([55]).   – In 2018, the Israeli army established a special reserve force as an elite team of residents of the Nitzana region, that neighbouring its borders with Egypt in the Sinai, to be the first nucleus of a major military unit that will be formed to face the terrorist threats in the region. The number of the military unit reached 20 persons, whose duties is to respond immediately to any attack, and was supplied with modern military vehicles and important operational equipment ([56]).   – In 2019, Human Rights Watch requested the Israeli authorities to “publicly declare the nature of the involvement of Israeli forces in the North Sinai conflict, and to investigate transparently in the accidents, in which the Israeli army raids resulted in civilian casualties. Moreover, communicating the results of these investigations to civilian victims and their relatives and providing financial compensation and non-material recognition of the harm done to them, such as an apology, regardless of the legitimacy of the attack that caused the damage ([57])..  – In mid-2011, Hamas launched a wide security campaign to control the borders between the Strip and Egypt, with the aim of intensifying the control mechanisms over the smuggling tunnels, and about 500 of its members were deployed to the entrances of tunnels area in order to monitor smuggling the merchandises and goods of various kinds ([58]).   – In May 2015, The security agencies of the Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip, launched a campaign against the individuals who are supporting the Islamic State, after detonating an explosive device, then Ansar Beit al-Maqdis accused Hamas security agencies of demolishing a mosque relating to its supporters  ([59]). In response to this campaign, the group bombed Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip with two mortar shells ([60]).   – In May 2016, Hamas arrested at least 20 members of the group, including 4 at the border, as they attempted to infiltrate through a tunnel to the Sinai to fight there ([61]).   – In August 2017, Hamas began a security campaign, which is the largest, against the militant organizations in the Gaza Strip, which is inspired by the ISIS approach, after amember of ISIS detonated himself in al-Qassam Brigade force on the border with Egypt, which considered as unprecedented development in the confrontation between the two parties, such attack left one death of al-Qassam Brigade in addition to the bomber who was killed, and several injuries, after the campaign, dozens of ISIS supporters were arrested in the Gaza Strip. Hamas also directed the preachers of mosques to launch a campaign against the delinquent ideology, and urged them to talk about the sanctity of Muslim blood, and the seriousness of intellectual perversity on man and society ([62]).     – In October 2017, the Hamas Ministry of the Interior stated that “Nour Issa and three others belonging to the Ahfad Beit al-Maqdis organization who fired rockets from Gaza into Israel during the past few months have been arrested, such group is affiliated to ISIS ([63]).   – In 2018, Hamas raised the security readiness along the border between Gaza Strip and Egypt, in conjunction with the military operation carried out by the Egyptian army, “the comprehensive operation Sinai 2018” (64]) . – Since 2013, Hamas has been accused of supporting the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis organization, as the Egyptian Ministry of Defense said that it seized weapons and ammunition belonging to the organization in the Sinai and some of those bombs that were found had the word “Al-Qassam Brigades,” the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement ([65]).   In 2015, Israel also accused Hamas of “supporting the Sinai attacks with the aim of opening a channel for new smuggling operations ([66]).  But Hamas denies the validity of these allegations ([67]), especially since the organization of Wilayat Sinai Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, considered it a legitimate target of its activities and accused it of apostasy, and it executed a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades for smuggling weapons to Hamas ([68]).

Table No (2)

Table No (3) shows the locations of the houses that were demolished to create the buffer zone. ([69])

Map No. (4) sites of agricultural lands that has been bulldozed ا([70]).

Conclusion

Although the activity of terrorist groups in the Sinai has decreased significantly, the continuity of combating terrorism in the peninsula is considered as one of the most important challenges, because any security gaps in the future may lead to the re-emergence of these organizations in various forms, which was evident when a ajihadist group known as “Caliphate Soldiers” announced about its presence in mid-2017, as they are a branch of the Islamic State in Cairo ([71]).

Furthermore, the situation in the Sinai Peninsula has become interrelated with international projects that have become known as the “Kushner” settlements or “Deal of the Century”, the peninsula has become the focus of future economic projects in it, to increase economic activity between the Gulf countries, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Accordingly, any future economic plan needs to a safe environment for its protection, which is what Egypt seeks through its operations in Sinai in coordination with Israel, but Hamas in the Gaza Strip rejects such plans, especially since the talk is about transferring the Palestinians to Sinai in exchange for handing over the Gaza Strip ([72]). Therefore, the process of polarization and the contrast between the positions related to the fate of the Sinai Peninsula may once again provide an opportunity for jihadist organizations to overcome the stage of weakness they are experiencing and to start towards launching more sensitive terrorist operations that move to the Egyptian, Israeli, and Gaza Strip.

“The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect Barq for Policies and Consultations views ”

All rights reserved for Barq for Policies and Consultations © 2019 

([1]) “From Yamit to the Jordan Valley, the IDF Continues to Force Arabs From Their Homes”. Haaretz, 16-4-2012. https://bit.ly/2Oqt9W7

    “Israel-Egypt Relations: The Yamit Evacuation”. Jewish Virtual Library, 23-6-2005. https://bit.ly/2LRdBIZ

“Sinai between the Jewish faith and the security aspects. Palestine Ala’an https://bit.ly/2P82D5D

 ([2]) “From the Movement for Unity and Jihad to Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” Egyptian Institute for Studies, 20-8-2017. https://bit.ly/2SilNC6

 ([3]) “Nature in the Sinai.” The official website of the Egyptian State Information Service, 9/30/2009. https://bit.ly/2Ndj5z9

([4]) “The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty that concluded 40 years ago.” France 24, 24-3-2019. https://bit.ly/2P0WCrk

([5]) “Shukri Mustafa,” the prince of Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra Islamic Movements Portal, 7-11-2016. https://bit.ly/31VqcAr

   Documentary “the assassination of Sheikh al-Dhahabi Part 1”. Al-Jazeera Net, 10-5-2007. https://bit.ly/2Zbw3zD

([6]) “CNN: Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra Group returns to Sinai The goal : Establishing the Islamic state” Al-Masry Al-Youm. 10-8-2011 https://bit.ly/2HecAZ3

([7]) “Who awakens Morsi: The Emirate of Al-Qaeda raises its flag in the Sinai. Middle East Online, 6-12-2012. https://bit.ly/2KR7WkK

   “Wilayat Sinai … ISIS and the threat to Egyptian national security. European Center for Counter-terrorism Studies, 1-11-2017. https://bit.ly/2Ndrr9G

   The arrest of a prominent leader from Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra Organization, North Sinai. Alquds Alarabi, 31-10-2013 https://bit.ly/30dmphi

([8]) “Tawhid wal-Jihad | The Tahrir Institute for Middle East policy, 22-7-2014. https://bit.ly/2KH9Cyh

([9]) see reference No (1)

([10]) “Jihadists and Post-Jihadists in the Sinai”. Brookings Institute, 5-9-2012. https://brook.gs/2HcTQsF

([11]) “Vittorio Arrigoni”. Al-Jazeera Net, 15-4-2011. https://bit.ly/2KRc3NJ

    “The Hamas government releases a prominent Salafi leader.” BBC, 3-8-2012. https://bbc.in/2Ndu4bR

([12]) “The assassination of Hisham Al-Sa’idani, the leader of the“ jihadist Salafism ”in the Gaza Strip, in an Israeli raid. Middle East, 10-15-2012. https://bit.ly/2N91wAd

([13]) “14 Islamists from the“ Tawhid and Jihad Group, sentenced to death in Egypt for their condemnation of the 2011 Sinai attack. France 24, 14-8-2012. https://bit.ly/2ZSBYub

([14]) “The good news of the announcement of the formation of the [ Mujahideen Shura Council in Environs of Jerusalem] and the claiming responsibility for [the Battle of Al-Nusra for Al-Aqsa and Prisoners].” 18-6-2012. https://bit.ly/2NdDAeM

([15]) “Environs of Jerusalem claiming responsibility for launching five missiles Israel from Sinai” Al-Riyadh newspaper, 11-18-2012. https://bit.ly/2TInsTY

([16]) “Washington included Mujahideen Shura Council in Environs of Jerusalem in the black list” Middle East, 20-8-2014. https://bit.ly/2HbU6Z6

([17]) Jund Ansar Allah Al-Jazeera Net, 13-3-2014. https://bit.ly/2KInpVv

([18]) “Gunmen declare an Islamic emirate in Gaza.” Al-Jazeera Net, 14-8-2009. https://bit.ly/2ZeCkP4

([19]) “The story of the disappearance and disintegration of Mujahideen Shura Council in Environs of Jerusalem AMAN، 16-12-2017. https://bit.ly/2YUd2GG

([20]) “The Re-Emergence of Jund al-Islam: A New Chapter in the Conflict Between al-Qaeda and ISIS”. Atlantic Council, 29-11-2017. https://bit.ly/2NebCjd

([21]) “Jund Al Islam” claiming responsibility for targeting the army in Sinai Al-Arabiya Net, 9-13-2013., 13-9-2013. https://bit.ly/2Nf0Jh0

([22]) “A new release for Jund al-Islam threatening Israel due to the violations of Gaza and the Sinai.” Elshaab Al Gaded News Paper,  23-5-2015 https://bit.ly/2ojb1wN

([23]) “introduction to “Jund Al Islam” The first defection in ISIS in Sinai. ” Al-Arabiya Net, 9-13-2017., 12-11-2013. https://bit.ly/2HcHukC

([24]) “The jihadist situation after the January 2011 revolution (2).” Egyptian Institute for Studies, 30-11-2018. https://bit.ly/30dMBrT

    “Sinai is the scene of al-Qaeda and ISIS struggling over the throne of terrorism.” Arab newspaper, from London, 11-11-2017. https://bit.ly/2P1tvV7

([25]) ISIS’s rifts in the organization of “Wilayat Sinai” are increasing… in the interest of in the interest of “Jund Al Islam” Al Araby.co.uk. 31-1-2018. https://bit.ly/2KLNUI4

(25) “The threat formulating the thoughts of Salafi jihadi ”into violent and terrorist activity.” The Israeli Shin Bet website, 12-30-2011. https://bit.ly/2DLoA3c

([27]) “Five were arrested in connection with the Taba bombings.” BBC, 25-10-2004. https://bbc.in/2BzLcCg

([28]) “The Egyptian court accuses the” Tawhid and Jihad “group of being responsible for the Sinai bombings. Al-Riyadh newspaper, 28-4-2006. https://bit.ly/2ArPRo7

 ([29]) “The Criterion Saga” Internet Archive Website، 17-7-2014. https://bit.ly/2TJ8blH

    The future of ISIS terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula. Middle East and North Africa Media Observatory, 27-2-2019. https://bit.ly/2Z0yXMe

([30]) “Ansar Beit al-Maqdis” blasphemed the Egyptian Army and the Brotherhood demanding him “repentance.” Arab newspaper, from London, 24-12-2013 https://bit.ly/2Zd6NsC

([31]) “ANSAR BAYT AL-MAQDIS”. US Director of National Intelligence. https://bit.ly/2Ri8y4E

([32]) Come to the Sinai Internet Archive Website، 28-11-2014. https://bit.ly/2TO7E1J

([33]) “Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis”. Global Security, 25-11-2017. https://bit.ly/2P8jMH9

([34]) Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, The containment struggle between “Al Qaeda” and “ISIS”. Islamic Movements Portal, 23-4-2014. https://bit.ly/2QqLm75

([35]) “Gaza: Smuggling tunnels are partially back BBC, 10-8-2012. https://bbc.in/2ziiJz7

    “With pictures .. The Egyptian army destroys 6 smuggling tunnels in Sinai. ” Al-ain news, 26-2-2017. https://bit.ly/2THpeVk

    Financing of “Wilayat Sinai” Donations via “Twitter” and human traffickers “Repentant” Al Araby.co.uk. 18-3-2015. https://bit.ly/2Ha2hFe

    “One cannabis operation every day at least from Sinai to Israel.” Alquds Alarabi, 18-8-2019 https://bit.ly/2ZcAwWK

([36]) “The harvest of terrorism in Egypt during eight years … from the valley and the Delta back to Sinai front.” Arabia Independent, 29-2-2019. https://bit.ly/2N8lElY

    Wilayat Sinai, announced the bombing of the main gas pipeline in Al-Arish Sputnik, 8-1-2016. https://bit.ly/2Sn3ah1

    “The Russian plane crash in Sinai” was a terrorist attack. BBC, 17-11-2015. https://bbc.in/211dc78

    Egypt : “Terrorism is dying” and in 2018 witnessed 8 operations. Anatolia, 1-1-2019. https://bit.ly/2QdYIja

    “Egyptian Sinai in 42 months .. 1441 people were killed in 1068 “terrorist” operations (framework). Anatolia, 20-1-2017. https://bit.ly/2z8WpYE

([37]) The future of ISIS terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula. Middle East and North Africa Media Observatory, 27-2-2019. https://bit.ly/2Z0yXMe

([38]) “Deaths among Egyptian Army during preventing a terrorist attack in Sinai.” Al-Jazeera Net, 14-4-2018. https://bit.ly/2KHaSkM

([39]) “Egypt : A terrorist attack against a Coptic bus … and “ISIS” claims responsibility. Middle East, 3-11-2018. https://bit.ly/2KQRelv

([40]) “Egypt : The Egyptian Army begins the “Eagle” operation against armed militants in Sinai. BBC, 15-8-2011. https://bbc.in/2KKrfvy

([41]) “Eagle 2” is a operation aimed at clearing Sinai of terrorism and the source of crimes. Emirates Today, 13-9-2012. https://bit.ly/33KkoLu

    “After one year of Sinai “2018” What has changed?”. Mada، 25-3-2019. https://bit.ly/2KGkjB8

([42]) “Israel allows Egypt to deploy more forces in the Sinai.” Al-Arabiya Net, 9-13-2013., 12-7-2013. https://bit.ly/2ziuJ3D

([43]) “Establishment of a“ border buffer zone ” continued with American and Israeli support. Sasa Post, 1-11-2014. https://bit.ly/2SkqwUo

([44]) “The expansion of the buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza begins … 12 cars to transport 2,044 families from 1220 buildings. ” CNN, 8-1-2015. https://cnn.it/2BJLO8s

   “The Egyptian authorities” will completely remove the city of Rafah “to create a buffer zone with Gaza.” BBC, 7-1-2015. https://bbc.in/29Dvsim

([45]) “Egypt. The battle of “The Right of the Martyr” claimed the death of 29 Sinai terrorists. Al-Arabiya Net, 9-13-2015., 8-9-2013. https://bit.ly/2OZ67Hv

([46]) “Egypt extends the buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.” BBC, 6-10-2017. https://bbc.in/2y0efLI

([47]) “Sinai 2018 ″ .. The latest operations of the Egyptian army against terrorism. Sky News Arabia, 10-2-2018. https://bit.ly/2xfqPrn

([48]) Video “The military sectors participating in Operation Sinai”. Al-Arabiya Hadath channel on YouTube, 11-2-2018. https://bit.ly/2KF8L0R

([49]) “Search for another homeland, Forced evictions operations in Egyptian Rafah. Human Rights Watch, 9-22-2015. https://bit.ly/2EONdd5

([50]) “Why did you leave Sinai?” Human Rights Watch, 28-5-2019 https://bit.ly/2XfEw7U

([51]) “Sisi confirms Israel’s contribution to confronting jihadists in the Sinai.” The Times of Israel، 4-1-2019. https://bit.ly/2ZdNpvM

[52]) “After he confessed to its military support .. Has Sisi implicated Israel in war crimes? ” Al-Jazeera Net, 19-1-2019. https://bit.ly/2ST7dlB

    “What is the truth about the” secret alliance “between Egypt and Israel to strike the terrorists in the Sinai?” Monte Carlo International, 4-2-2018. https://bit.ly/2HAKyas

([53]) “Israeli air strikes” in Sinai is an evidence of the growth of its relations with the Arab world. BBC, 6-2-2018. https://bbc.in/2KEconT

([54]) “The Egyptian military spokesman explains to Sputnik the fact that Israel is participating in the Sinai operations.” Sputnik, 4-2-2018. https://bit.ly/30f7umT

([55]) “Lieberman implicitly recognizes responsibility for the Sinai strikes and clarifies.” Araby 21, 21-2-2017. https://bit.ly/2Z9xfU1

([56]) “Israel establishes the first core of a major military unit on the border with Egypt.” Sputnik, 21-1-2018. https://bit.ly/2ZcPCHP

([57]) “The one who fears his life is leaving Sinai!” Violations by the Egyptian security forces and ISIS militants in North Sinai. Human Rights Watch, 28-5-2019 https://bit.ly/2I01vu4

([58]) “A security campaign in Gaza to control the borders with Egypt.” Palestine Ala’an, 30-7-2011 https://bit.ly/2MneCu7

([59]) “Tension is increasing between Hamas and pro-Islamic State groups and the detonation of explosive devices in separate locations in Gaza.” Alquds Alarabi, 5-5-2015 https://bit.ly/2H8cD8H

([60]) “A group supporting the Islamic State: We bombed a site of the Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza. ” Alquds Alarabi, 8-5-2015 https://bit.ly/30jQ3Bu

[61]) “Hamas targets the supporters of” ISIS “in Gaza after increasing attempts to infiltrate into Sinai.” Middle East, 30-5-2016. https://bit.ly/2YZUbtY

([62]) “Hamas closes the borders with Egypt and repels against [ISIS] Gaza.” Middle East, 18-8-2017. https://bit.ly/2rdnCFo

([63]) “A surprise campaign by Hamas against ISIS supporters.” Arab newspaper, from London, 8-10-2017 https://bit.ly/2ZbXvS0

([64]) “Tight security measures in Gaza coincided with the Sinai operation.” Erm News, 9-2-2018. https://bit.ly/2Mo0y3u

([65]) “The Egyptian Army: The Sinai operation continues and arms are seized relating to Hamas. BBC, 15-9-2013. https://bbc.in/2ZbVkK3

([66]) “Israel accuses” Hamas “of supporting” ISIS “attack in Sinai to obtain weapons. And to open a border road with Egypt. CNN, 8-7-2015. https://cnn.it/2Rrabx8

([67]) “Al-Qassam denies supporting the Islamic State in Sinai.” Al-Jazeera Net, 4-7-2015. https://bit.ly/2HdkYIm

([68]) the war of “Wilayat Sinai” against Hamas “ : Is a new precious thing for I Israel” Al Araby.co.uk. 5-1-2018. https://bit.ly/2HfEHHb

([69]) Source of the map, Human Rights Watch, see reference No. 48.

([70]) Source of the map, Human Rights Watch, see reference No. 48.

([71]) Caliphate Soldiers in Egypt “ Affiliated to ISIS ” and coordinates with the “Wilayat Sinai” and pledges to continue targeting Copts and government interests. Islamic Movements Portal, 6-5-2017. https://bit.ly/2rh47eZ

([72]) “Hamas: We refuse to solve the issue at the expense of Sinai. ” Al-Jazeera Net, 11-1-2018. https://bit.ly/30gEmeS

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close
Close