Israel: The Egyptian Army Gets Religion

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August 17, 2012: In the Sinai Peninsula the Egyptian Army continued its raids and arrests that began on the 8th. There are believed to be hundreds of Islamic terrorists living in the Sinai, many of them among the thousands of Islamic radicals who have moved into the Sinai over the last few years to live their strict Islamic lifestyle without being bothered by the police. This offensive began the day after Sinai based terrorists killed 16 Egyptian border guards and attempted to drive two stolen border guard armored vehicles into Israel. The Sinai based terrorists have warned the Egyptian security forces to leave them alone, as the militants are only concerned about making war on Israel, not Egypt. The security forces have so far made several hundred arrests and killed over a hundred people, some in air raids. Police and soldiers have found a lot of evidence of terrorist activity in Sinai. The large number of raids has also increased violence between pro-government tribes and Islamic terror groups. The terrorists have told the security forces to back off or face a long and bloody campaign.

The terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limit the number of Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has to agree to any increase in Egyptian forces in Sinai. On the 7th (the day of the attack on an Egyptian border post), Israel agreed to Egypt sending in 3,500 more troops. In 2005, Israel allowed 750 more Egyptian police into Gaza to take care of increased security needs following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The original treaty allowed about 26,000 Egyptian soldiers and police in the Sinai and about 2,500 foreign observers (mostly American). Israel has also allowed Egypt to bring in AH-64 helicopter gunships. Israel believes that Egypt has sent more additional troops into Sinai than are allowed by international agreements and recent modifications to those deals. Israel is monitoring the size of Egyptian forces in the Sinai and not saying anything as long as the Egyptians are going after Islamic terrorists there.

Another form of terrorism is taking place in Egypt, as members of the religious parties (especially the Moslem Brotherhood) intimidate media outlets and individuals that criticize the new government. This confirms the fears of many Egyptians that electing so many Islamic conservatives might lead to replacing one form of dictatorship with another. The senior Islamic clerics have supported this kind of violence against "enemies of Islam."

Israeli officials continue to support the idea that Israel might carry out an air raid on Iranian nuclear facilities despite the fact that most Israelis oppose such a move and the Iranian government wants it (to unite the Iranian population, currently opposed to their government, behind the religious dictatorship there). It is believed that the air raid threats are mainly to confuse the Iranian leadership.

August 16, 2012: Israel successfully completed a five day test of using mobile phone texting to warn people of an impending missile or rocket attack. The new warning system is linked to the missile detection radar system and automatically warns only people in an area where the detection system calculates the incoming missile will land. Over the last five days the system sent out test warnings to many mobile phones in different parts of the country. The warnings urge people to seek shelter immediately.

August 15, 2012: Two explosions were heard outside the southern Israeli city of Eilat. These turned out to be two rockets, fired from Gaza by an Islamic terrorist group.

August 14, 2012: Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza for three days. The border crossing has been closed or very tightly controlled for the last week because Egypt believes Hamas is providing sanctuary for Islamic terrorists who are making attacks on Egyptian police. Hamas denies this.

August 12, 2012: The newly elected president of Egypt replaced the Defense Minister, the head of the army, and several other senior officers. More new appointments followed over the next few days. The generals went along with this, to the relief of most Egyptians. For over sixty years Egypt has basically been a military dictatorship. Elections were held but they were rigged and opposing the military could get you in big trouble. A deal has apparently been made with the senior officers because the retired officers were offered senior civilian jobs and there was no talk of prosecuting the generals for economic crimes. The generals promoted to replace the retired men were not only younger but all known to be religious. While the senior officers were united in their desire to keep the military strong (or at least wealthy), many officers saw the need for reform, and now these officers are being given a chance to step up and do the right thing (steal less and use military resources more effectively). This threatens Israel because it makes the Egyptian military more effective. Over the last few decades the corruption within the Egyptian military had severely eroded the ability of the military to fight a major war. This bothered a lot of officers who were not particularly religious. But everyone was doing well financially and the retired generals running the government punished any officers who tried to change things. But now there is a non-military parliament and president that wants to impose Sharia (Islamic) law and end the corruption. The new government could make this happen if they had an unofficial amnesty for previous corruption and only prosecuted those who continued diverting military funds to personal use.  One thing the corrupt generals and their cleaner replacements have in common is an intense hatred of Israel. The decades of ant-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda in Egypt has had its impact even on highly educated military officers.

August 10, 2012: Internet security researchers have revealed that a new Cyber War class computer program has been unleashed in the Middle East. Similar to Stuxnet and Duqu (both created by a joint U.S.-Israeli effort for use against Iran), the new bit of malware is called Gauss and it is being used to monitor Hezbollah financial activity. Gauss was apparently unleashed a year ago and has already done its job. It is tools like Gauss that make Israeli so confident when they accuse Hezbollah of things like the recent suicide bombing in Bulgaria. Israel has also admitted that it has captured phone activity between Lebanon and Bulgaria that confirm Hezbollah participation.

August 9, 2012: Israel announced that it had arrested 14 Arab-Israeli drug dealers in the last few weeks and found that these men were also smuggling in explosives from Lebanon, from Hezbollah, for terrorist bombs.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the violence in Egypt, Israel received a record number of tourists last month. The Israeli economy is booming, producing many more new jobs (per capita) than any of its Arab neighbors.

 

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