Sunday’s terror attack in south prompts Israel’s defense establishment reassess intelligence gathering process in peninsula. Egypt mounts full-scale manhunt for Sinai terrorists; said to be after 2,000 gunmen
The defense establishment is said to be reassessing its intelligence gathering tactics is the Sinai Peninsula, following Sunday’s terror attack on the southern border.
According to a Wednesday report in the Jerusalem Post, the true identity of the terrorists – who killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the Rafah-Gaza border and were eventually stopped by IDF forces near Kerem Shalom – is still unknown.
Egypt believes that the attack was the work of a radical Salafi terror group, although no official claim of responsibility has been made.
According to the report, all of Israel’s intelligence agencies – the IDF’s Military Intelligence, the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad pursue intelligence gathering efforts in Sinai, but as Egypt and Israel have a peace treaty in place, such endeavors were cut back.
Intelligence gathering efforts grew in volume over the past year, following the deadly terror attack on Highway 10 in August of 2011, when Islamic Jihad terrorists attacked a bus, killing seven Israelis.
These efforts, however, are hindered by what a “territorial struggle” between the agencies; which according to the report stems from budgetary differences.
As Sinai is outside of Israel’s borders, the Mossad claims it should head the Intelligence gathering efforts, as its local terror infrastructure is not always connected to the known terror groups in Gaza – when MI and the Shabak may have better sources.
Cooperation between all agencies is likely to grow, as all of them agree on one thing – Sinai has become terrorist-infested.
Meanwhile, Egypt mounted an unprecedented sweep against the terrorists hiding in Sinai, deployed both ground an air forces across the peninsula’s dunes for the first time since 1973.
The wide-scale operation was coordinated in full with Israel, media reports said.
Egypt’s Al-Youm al-Sabaa newspaper quoted Cairo security officials as saying that Israel agreed to Egypt’s use of advanced military equipment – including missiles – in an area bordering with Israel.
According to Arab media outlets, the five-hour operation saw Egyptian forces hunt nearly 2,000 terrorists. Egypt’s State TV said 25-30 gunmen were killed and sweeps were held to apprehend the others.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi vowed on Sunday to end the chaos in Sinai, “Even if it means we have to strike Gaza.”
According to a report in Al Masrawy newspaper, the decision to attack in Sinai was made on Monday, following a meeting between the Egyptian military command and police forces. It was decided that the Egyptian Air Force would strike three different terror hubs, including nests in the city of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.
According to Arab media outlets, Hamas – as a response to the attack – announced it will deploy forces along the border with Egypt and has raised the security alert level.