Egypt Halts Anti-terrorist Military Operations in Sinai

Avi Issacharoff
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Avi Issacharoff

Egyptian media reported Tuesday that Egypt's military has ceased its activities in the Sinai Peninsula, after carrying out a three-week operation there.

During “operation eagle,” the Egyptian military targeted Islamic terrorist cells in northern Sinai, focusing its efforts near the cities of Sheikh Zayed and El Arish.

The operation was apparently halted following talks between representatives of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and leaders of the Jihadist organizations active in Sinai.

Egyptian media has also reported that within Sinai, Egypt's military has been continuing to target underground tunnels between Sinai and the Gaza Strip. According to the reports, Egyptian military engineering vehicles are continuing to demolish tunnels between Egyptian Rafah and Palestinian Rafah, focusing primarily on tunnels that lead to open areas and farmland, some of which apparently are not under Hamas control on the Palestinian side.

The Sinai operation began as a result of an attack which took place in early August, in which gunmen stormed an Egyptian army checkpoint by the border between Gaza and Israel, killing the 16 soldiers as they broke their daily fast for the holy month of Ramadan with a sunset meal. The attackers then commandeered an armored vehicle, which they later used to storm across the border into Israel where they were hit by an Israeli airstrike that killed at least six militants.

The operation against terrorist cells in northern Sinai that ensued caused diplomatic controversy, as initial reports surfaced, claiming that the activity was not coordinated with Israel, a requirement of the 1979 peace agreement.

Last week, an Egyptian official said that Egypt had heeded Israeli demands that it retreat its troops and tanks from Sinai, and noted that Egypt is committed to the Camp David accords.

An Egyptian soldier stands guard at a checkpoint in Rafah city on the Egyptian border.Credit: Reuters