The Egyptian government is scrambling to gain control over the Sinai Peninsula after Israel delivered a threatening message to the country in the wake of the recent rocket attack on the southern city of Eilat.
According to Egyptian officials, Israel intimated that if Egypt doesn’t gain control over the region soon, Israel will step in and do it for them.
The rockets which landed near Eilat likely originated in the Sinai Peninsula, which, though it is technically part of Egypt, has become something of a “no man’s land” since the Egyptian revolution. In addition to the recent rocket attack, gas pipelines have also been sabotaged, and there are numerous reports of hostage-taking and kidnappings in the area.
Egypt denied all prior knowledge of the attack, but that didn’t please Israeli officials, according Haaretz. According to the Israeli news site, Israel feels the Egyptian government needs to take responsibility for the region; its ignorance of dangerous activities is not a comforting or positive response.
However, Israel’s direct military intervention in the matter could spark massive unrest in Egypt, and threaten the stability of the Camp David peace accords.
Haaretz describes the situation:
[Despite] public backlash [in Egypt], the Egyptian Supreme Military Council is aware of its ineptitude in the Sinai, especially after Bedouin militias “conquered” two police stations in El-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, and are not allowing Egyptian forces to monitor the trade taking place through tunnels between Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
The desert peninsula has become a gigantic weapons storage facility, the contents of which are available to anyone willing to pay the Bedouin a reasonable price.
Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri reported this month that at least 10 million illegal weapons, including heavy machine guns, submachine guns, rocket launchers and mortars have been smuggled into Egypt from Libya and Sudan since the beginning of the revolution…
The site concludes:
A scenario in which Israel would act on its own in the Sinai could turn the cooperation between the Bedouin and the terrorist organizations, and the tension between the Bedouin and the Egyptian government into a strategic threat, capable of destroying the peace agreement for which all are worried.
Egypt sent hundreds of troops into the Peninsula Saturday morning, though it remains to be seen what effect it will have.