August 18, 2011"Does It Ever End?"Many of you will have heard already, of course. But I want to put out this post this evening concerning a terrorist attack that hit Israel today.Perhaps one day we will see the end of it. But not yet, certainly.This attack was different in its locale and its technique from what we've seen more commonly: Multi-pronged, it took place in the desert not far outside of Eilat.Because we're talking about something that happened over the last few hours, and many facts are not yet confirmed, I find that different sources are providing variant versions of what transpired. In due course, there will be more clarity.
At about noon today, terrorists -- apparently wearing Egyptian army uniforms -- entered Israel via the Sinai and opened fire on an Egged (Israeli) bus headed to, and not far from, Eilat. The bus driver remained cool and responded appropriately, quickly accelerating to get out of the range of fire as quickly as possible.
Only minutes later, roadside bombs exploded, hitting soldiers patrolling along the Egyptian border. Mortar shells were also aimed at soldiers.
Some while thereafter, north of the first attack, an anti-tank missile was fired. I believe it was aimed towards a bus but hit a private vehicle. My understanding is that all those in the car were killed.
Terrorists were engaged, and killed by the IDF. The number killed is said to be seven, but I'm seeing reports indicating that as many as 20 may have been involved in the different stages of this operation.
My immediate thought when hearing the first reports was that we were looking at Bedouin terrorists coming out of the Sinai, which has been something of a no-man's land in recent months. The Bedouin -- cooperating with/co-opted by Jihadist groups -- have been rampaging there since the fall of Mubarak; they have been responsible on repeated occasions for blowing up the Sinai pipeline that supplies natural gas to Israel.
See here for information about the al-Qaeda presence in the Sinai: Sinai a terror hotbed
However, Defense Minister Barak indicated that the attack originated in Gaza. This does not necessarily mean that Hamas -- which praised the attack but did not claim responsibility -- was the source. What is clear is that this was a carefully orchestrated attack by a group with sophistication about terror techniques.
Hamas did evacuate its headquarters in anticipation of an Israeli air action, and additionally threatened that there would be a response to any Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Retaliatory action inside of Gaza began almost immediately, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying that Israel's sovereignty had been hurt.
Tonight Netanyahu issued this statement:
"We all witnessed an attempt to ratchet up the level of terror emanating from Sinai. If someone thinks that Israel will put up with this, he is wrong.
"I have established a principle: when Israeli citizens are hurt, we hit back immediately, and with force. This principle was implemented today. The people who gave the order to murder our civilians, who were hiding in Gaza, are no longer among the living."
The Israeli air strike hit a building in Rafah used by terrorists. According to Palestinian Arab sources, among the six killed were Abu Oud al-Nirab, the commander of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, and Khaled Shaath, a senior member of the group.
There are reports that Egyptian military have been cooperative in responding to these multiple attacks -- possibly taking down a couple of the terrorists and searching the area on their side of the border for the presence of those terrorists not yet caught.
Last week, the Egyptian military launched an operation in the Sinai against Jihadists and associated Bedouin. It involved about 1,000 troops and several hundred armed personnel carriers, and raised some eyebrows because the Sinai, according to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, is to be demilitarized. However, Israel, mindful of the problems with arms smuggling into Gaza by the Bedouins, as well as terrorist influence in the area, welcomed the operation.
Egyptian troops took up positions near Rafah and El-Arish; I am not aware of any stipulation of a date by which they have to leave.
See more here: Egypt launches massive operation to control Sinai
A fence along Israel's border with the Sinai is in process of being put up. It was approved in order to prevent infiltration not only with regard to terrorists, but because of the large number of emigrants from Africa seeking to enter Israel illegally (a problem that has reached unmanageable proportions).
Unfortunately, at this point, work on the fence, which is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, is less than half completed. Where the work has been done, infiltration has diminished. Areas where there is no fence are supposed to be patrolled and monitored with cameras and radar scans. But this remains a highly porous border.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Gaza and Egypt and Terrorism.© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.