– KEREM SHALOM RAID – WAKE UP CALL FOR EGYPT
Israel issued, on Saturday 08/04/2012, an urgent warning to all Israelis in Sinai Red Sea resorts to leave immediately the Sinai Peninsula ant to return to Israel. According to the warning Jihadi elements in Sinai are preparing a majjor attack against Israeli targets and although the nature of the attack was not clear Israel feared a kidnaping or hostage taking situation.
In order to foil and disrupt the terror activity an Israeli UAV drone , on Sunday 08/05/2-012 at about 14:30, shot a missile at a motorcycle carrying two Popular Resistance Committees – PRC members in the Tel Sultan neighborhood, west of Rafah. One of the terrorists, Ahmad Said Ismail, 22, who participated in the attack at the Israeli-Egypt border in June, which claimed the life of an Israeli citizen (see – Nitzana 06.18.12 ), was severely wounded and his partner Ayad Nadi Okhal, 19, was killed. both were facilitators between Jihadi elements in Sinai Peninsula and rogue organizations inside Gaza Strip under Hamas control.
Five hours later, at about 19:30, just as the guards had stopped work for the traditional iftar meal, which breaks the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, heavily armed masked gunmen dressed as Bedouin nomads opened fire on police with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Egyptian state television said. The attackers, turned to be Islamist militants, had captured an Egyptian border post at Rafah, killing 16 Egyptian Border Police officers and commandeered 2 armored vehicle. Another seven Egyptian personnel were wounded. The Jihadi militants loaded one of the armored cars with explosives and at about 20:10 tried to smash their way over the Israeli nearby border, just 3 km away, according to Israeli sources.
Under a barrage of mortars, one vehicle apparently blew up at the Kerem-Shalom crossing paving the way for the second armored car to enter inside Israel. But the other car, with a scaude of 7 fighters, was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force – IAF few meters inside Israel. Islamist militants have been blamed by both sides, Egypt and Israel, for carrying out the attack.
In all, eight militants were killed, Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a parliamentary committee in Jerusalem. The aim of the militants was to use stolen vehicles to target Israeli civilians, Israeli officials said.
Egypt’s state news agency quoted a top security official who said the gunmen were “jihadists” who had infiltrated from the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian army surrounded the town of Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border in the early hours of Monday, in an attempt to stop the militants from escaping, Egyptian website al-Ahram reported.
Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi held an emergency meeting with military and security officials after the attack. As the search for any remaining gunmen continues, Egypt has closed its Rafah border crossing with Gaza (see also – Egypts New Phase ).
The Islamist Hamas movement which governs Gaza has condemned the attack too.
The attack will be seen as more worrying evidence that Islamist militants have a firm foothold in the restive Northern Sinai region. They have been blamed for several rocket attacks against Israel and a cross-border raid that killed nine Israelis last year. There have also been repeated attacks on the pipeline that exports gas to Israel and Jordan. Last month, two Egyptian soldiers were shot dead.
Egypt’s military sent extra tanks and troops into the Sinai last year. The terms had to be agreed with Israel under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries, our correspondent says.
Although Egypt’s president Mohammed Mursi is sympathetic to the Islamic cause the last event forced Egypt, the Hamas in Gaza strip and its bitter enemy – Israel, to cooperate against rogue Jihadi organizations, now thriving in Sinai Peninsula, who can easily drag the parties to a bloody confrontation they do not want. Eventually Global Jihad is a threat to Egypt and Hamas in Gaza as well. The history has its bizarre ways.
Egypt demands handover of 3 Hamas terrorists.Palestinian paper al Quds claims, on Thursday 08/09/2012. Izz al-Din al-Qassam members wanted in connection with logistical assistance provided to Sinai Islamists.
The three terrorists are Ayman Nufal, Raad al-Attar (1) and Muhammad abu Shamala (2). The official stressed that the request, which was transmitted to Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniya, is not linked to their direct involvement in Sunday’s terror raid , but rather to the possibility that the three were involved in logistics assistance provided to arms smuggling and Islamist groups active in Sinai. The Egyptian authorities asked also for the extradition of three Army of Islam militants Cairo believes were implicated directly in the terror attack. Ayman Nufal was the commander of Izz al-Din al-Qassam in the central Gaza Strip. In 2008, he was arrested in Sinai by Egyptian security forces and accused of planning terror attacks. The Hamas terrorist served time in Egyptian prison, but escaped during the country’s revolution and managed to return to Gaza through a smuggling tunnel (see – Egypt’s Mass Jail Breakout).
Raad al-Attar and Muhammad abu Shamala are senior member of Hamas’ military wing in Rafah. Al- Attar is regarded as one of the masterminds behind Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
Palestinian security officials have claimed in the past that al-Attar is also responsible for dispatching a terrorist cell that fired Katyusha rockets from the Sinai Peninsula toward the southern city of Eilat in 2010 (see – Aqaba 04.22.10 ).
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