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What should Israelis make of the Daesh(ISIL-ISIS) Bloodbath in Sinai?

Rawda Mosque of el-Arish in Sinai where recent terror attack to place

Friday morning at a packed mosque near the town of el-Arish in Sinai:

Thousands of Sunni Muslims have packed the Mosque for the traditional Friday morning prayers. Suddenly, four or five pickup trucks speed toward the Mosque where a throng has gathered outside. In the vehicles, an estimated 20 terrorists open fire with machine guns spraying the bystanders. Simultaneously, explosive charges blow up inside the building. The terrorists then run inside firing RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and machine gun the worshippers. Pandemonium – terror at its worst! The panic-stricken worshippers, many of them Egyptian off-duty soldiers, race for the exits. But in the packed building, it is almost impossible to escape. Some of the shooters even go from wounded to wounded shooting them dead at point blank range.

It is hard to envisage this diabolical inferno. The terrorists, after an estimated 20 minutes, then run back to their pickups and make their get-away. It is the worst terrorist atrocity in Egypt's history. At this time 305 Egyptian Muslims have been massacred and another 500 have been wounded, some of them critically. Daesh wanted to make a point; they have been beaten in Syria and Iraq but they are still alive and kicking.

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu immediately sent Israel's condolences to Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi offering Israeli aid. In the past, Daesh forces in Sinai have launched missiles ai into Israel. In order to defeat the common enemy, the IDF and the Egyptian Army have been collaborating. Israel's Channel 1 TV has also reported that Israeli jets have even carried out air strikes in Sinai with Egypt's consent. However, there is no official confirmation of this report.

In the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Egyptian governed Sinai was totally demilitarized. At the time, Prime Minister Menachem Begin insisted on this buffer zone of approximately 150 kilometers that provides Israel with distance and critical time in the event Cairo should ever decide to launch another surprise attack again as it did in 1973, almost winning the Yom Kippur War.

For three years now the Egyptian Army has been battling Daesh in Sinai with Jerusalem's consent that Egyptian forces enter the region.

For three years now the Egyptian Army has been battling Daesh in Sinai with Jerusalem's consent that Egyptian forces enter the region. It can now be expected that Israel will now agree that Cairo sends, even more, forces into Sinai, but on condition that they withdraw after defeating Daesh.

And just why has it been so hard for Egypt's modern army supplied with American jets and tanks to defeat the Daesh force (which is estimated to be only several thousand guerillas but nonetheless has repeatedly carried out surprise raids killing many Egyptian troops)?

There are several reasons:

First, Sinai is a huge expanse with lots of nooks and crannies for the guerrillas to hide after launching quick and effective raids. Then there's the local population, a necessary factor in guerrilla warfare. The Sinai is populated by two large Bedouin tribes. This region is an Egyptian 'backyard' far off the beaten track, and the local Bedouin feel they have been neglected for years by the powers that be in faraway Cairo. The fact they feel looked down upon has combined to a build-up of resentment. The Bedouin are renowned for their smuggling skills and have played a key role in supplying arms to Hamas inside Gaza that borders on Sinai. The Bedouin have also been aiding Daesh not only by smuggling arms but probably also by providing vital intelligence about the Egyptian military deployment as well as the overall 'lay of the land'.

Newly elected Egyptian President el-Sisi

In Cairo, this latest atrocity appears to be the last straw for President Abdul el-Sisi. Bear in mind that he rose to power, after deposing the former Muslim Brotherhood regime, another radical Islamic movement. In an emergency address to the nation, a somber el-Sisi, who was a Field Marshal the Egyptian army, vowed to wipe out Daesh in Sinai to the last man. His leadership is now on the line.

Muslim ferocity between factions is not new; nor is violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. But in this case, Sunni Daesh massacred fellow Sunni worshippers simply because their brand of Sunni Islam is different than theirs. Daesh also wants to foment dissension with the aim of eventually overthrowing the current Egyptian government.

In Syria, Daesh conducted a massacre of the hapless Yazidi tribe – killing the males, selling women and girls into sex slavery. And the world did nothing. President Bashar Assad even dropped chemical weapons on his fellow Syrian civilians – men, women, and children. And again the world did nothing. Correction - after Assad was caught the first time, Free World leader US President Barack Obama issued a stern warning that if Assad ever dared to do it again there would be 'Consequences!' In diplomatic jargon that translates into ' they're be hell to pay!) Of course, Assad did, and Obama backed down by calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to get him off the hook by getting more involved.

The result is that Putin is now calling the shots in Syria, and Israel is warily watching Iranian forces trying to move down to the Syrian border with Israel on the Golan Heights. This is not to say that most Muslims are potential terrorists. But anyone who is sane and sensible must keep in mind the region in which Israel is living and what happens to 'losers', in President Trump's own jargon. If the Jewish state makes even one major security mistake, like losing one war because of making too dangerous of concessions, it will bear horrific consequences. This should also be kept in mind when considering new peace proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Like the former Israeli agreements with Egypt and Jordan, a peace plan with the Palestinians must also provide similar safeguards.


David Essing

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