A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
August 6, 2012- Attack by Terrorist Kills Egyptian Soldiers
Events last night along the border with Egypt portend the dangers ahead, as well as provide a possible opening to enhanced cooperation with the new regime in Cairo. To recap the events, a terrorist group (being called at the moment "tied to Al Qaeda") attacked an Egyptian border station near the Keren Shalom crossing. This is the location where Egypt, the Gaza Strip, and Israel meet.
The terrorists killed 17 Egyptian soldiers- some by shooting, others by cutting their throats. Then they commandeered a truck and an armored carrier. The armored carrier, together with the truck headed for the Israeli border crossing. For unknown reasons, the truck blew up as it reached the crossing. The armored car made it across the border. Israeli troops at the crossing were not able to stop it.
The intelligence Israel had received was general in nature. However, because Israel was aware that there was going to be some sort attack, the forces along the border were on high alert. Tanks were on the ready. RPVs were flying overhead at all times. Thus, the army was able to give immediate chase to the armored car, which first headed South. The RPV was able to fire on it to slow it down. Finally, three tanks converged on the RPV and destroyed it. The men inside were heavily armed. It seems they were wearing explosive belts. The terrorists were killed by Israeli troops. It also seems (at this point) that some of the terrorists came from the Gaza Strip and were Palestinians.
This attack has stunned Egypt. The killing of Egyptian soldiers is an affront to Egyptian honor. Egyptian President Morsi has pledged vengeance and ordered all of the tunnels and the official border crossing to Gaza closed. In one of the few cases in recent history, Israel is not being blamed. In fact, many are asking why Israeli warnings were not taken more seriously.
On one hand, the attack in Sinai could be looked upon as a sign of things to come. On the other hand, the Egyptian government seems to be realizing that the lawlessness in Sinai cannot persist. They need to take action against it. Of course part of the problem is that Egypt has never been very good and gaining control of the Sinai, even when they really wanted to. We will see what happens in the next few days.
Meanwhile, the government of Assad seems to be in a potential death spiral. Today, the Prime Minister, who is a Sunni, resigned and fled to join the rebels. There is now a steady trickle of defections of high ranking officials. At the same time, fighting has broken out again in Damascus, after the government claimed it had cleared the city of rebels. It's only a matter of time.
Events relating to Iran have become a little scary. However, that topic requires a completely separate post, or an article in the Times of Israel later this week. Tonight, as I passed the Ministry of Defense there was an antiwar demonstration with about 500 people taking place.