A pair of Egyptian Air Force helicopter gun-ships surprised Salafist and Palestinian terrorists Tuesday, Sept. 3, by firing 13 rockets into two gatherings at Al-Muataa and Touma, south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid near the northern Sinai border with the Gaza Strip. Egyptian security officials reported “dozens" killed and wounded.
debkafile’s military sources report that the Egyptians struck to break up the stormy disturbances staged by thousands of Bedouin Islamists and armed Palestinians against the large-scale Egyptian military counter-terror operation ongoing in northern Sinai. An uproar erupted when Egyptian forces Saturday, Aug. 31 set about carving out two off-limits security zones to shut down the smuggling tunnels linking Egyptian Sinai to the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
This project aims at putting a stop to the free movement of Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami gunmen between the two territories.
Our military sources note that for the first time in eight years, the Egyptian army is honoring the obligation undertaken by the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2005, when Israel pulled out unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. That commitment was never upheld until now.
Since the coup against Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian army has embarked on two simultaneous strategic operations to curtail terrorist activities which endanger both Egypt and Israel:
1. They are cleansing the 14-kilometer long, 500 meter broad “Philadelphi corridor” separating Gaza from Sinai, which reaches up to the Egyptian-Israeli-Gaza border crossing of Kerem Shalom. Vegetation has been cleared and the Palestinian houses located there, which hid secret tunnel entrances, were flattened and their occupants forcibly evacuated to the Egyptian side of the divided town of Rafah.
2. Egyptian Rafah is in lockdown behind dozens of checkpoints manned by Egyptian troops to seal the town against access. This move cuts both sides of Rafah off from northern Sinai.
An Egyptian military belt now fences in the entire Egyptian-Gazan border, cutting its connections to and from Sinai and providing the Egyptian army with full control over the smuggling tunnels still snaking underneath.
For some days, thousands of inhabitants of Rafah, Bir al-Abed and Sheikh Zuweid rioted in an effort to disrupt the Egyptian operations. Tuesday, Sept 3, the Egyptian commander of Sinai, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Wasfy decided to put a stop to the disturbances. He launched a surprise airborne rocket attack on the rioters after receiving warning that armed Salafists who had mingled among the rioters were preparing a major assault on the Egyptian forces engaged in establishing the two security zones.