Sinai insurgency

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Sinai insurgency (2011–present)
Part of the Arab Winter and the Egyptian Crisis
Map of the Sinai Peninsula.
Date 23 February 2011 – present
(4 years, 9 months and 3 days)
Location Sinai Peninsula, Egypt
Status Ongoing


Multinational Force and Observers[2]

Border attack:

Flag of Jihad.svg Islamist militants

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[11]

Commanders and leaders

Egypt Sedki Sobhi

  • Abu Osama al-Masri (ISIL Emir of Wilayat Sinai)[15]
  • Shadi el-Manaei
  • Selim Suleiman Al-Haram [16][17]
Unknown ~12,000 total militants[18]
Casualties and losses
Egypt Military:
277 soldiers killed
2 utility helicopter destroyed
3-5 tank destroyed
7 APC destroyed
3 IFVs destroyed
1 patrol boat damaged
Egypt CSF:
61 killed
Egypt Police:
87 killed
Egypt Hostage Rescue Force:
6 killed
366 killed (600 per BBC)[19])
Flag of Jihad.svg 1,970 militants killed
Civilian casualties: 235 Egyptian, 6 Israeli, 4 South Korean
Yamam:2 killed
IDF: 1 killed
Total: 2,584 killed

The Sinai insurgency is the conflict ignited by Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula, which began after the start of the Egyptian Crisis, which saw the overthrow of longtime Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the response from the interim Egyptian government after mid-2011, known as Operation Eagle and then Operation Sinai. The Sinai insurgency consisted of militants, largely composed of local Bedouin tribesmen, who exploited the chaotic situation in Egypt and weakened central authority to launch a series of attacks on government forces in Sinai.

In May 2013, following an abduction of Egyptian officers, violence in the Sinai surged once again. Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, which resulted in the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, "unprecedented clashes" have occurred.[20] In 2014, elements of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and proclaimed themselves as the Sinai Province. Militant attacks continued into 2015. Security officials say militants based in Libya have established ties with Sinai Province.[21]

The fallout suffered by the locals as a result of the insurgency in Sinai ranges from militant operations and the state of insecurity to extensive military operations and the demolishing of hundreds of homes and evacuating thousands of residents as Egyptian troops pressed on to build a buffer zone meant to halt the smuggling of weapons and militants from and to the Gaza strip. A report, compiled by a delegation from the state-funded National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), stated that most of the displaced families share the same grievances of palpable government negligence, unavailability of nearby schools for their sons and the lack of health services.[22] Since the start of the conflict, dozens of civilians were killed either in military operations or kidnapped and then beheaded by militants.

Administratively, the Sinai Peninsula is divided into two governorates: the South Sinai Governorate and the North Sinai Governorate. Three other governorates span the Suez Canal, crossing into African Egypt: Suez Governorate on the southern end of the Suez Canal, Ismailia Governorate in the center, and Port Said Governorate in the north.


Map of the Sinai Peninsula

Sufism was previously dominant in the region before jihadi ideas began to take hold.[23] The Sinai peninsula has long been known for its lawlessness, having historically served as a smuggling route for weapons and supplies. Security provisions in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979 have institutionalized a diminished security presence in the area, enabling militants to operate with a freer hand. Moreover, the limited government-directed investment and development in Sinai has discriminated against the local Bedouin population, a population that values tribal allegiance over all else. The combination of Sinai's harsh terrain and lack of resources have kept the area poor and hence ripe for militancy.[24]

Following the January 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime, the country became increasingly destabilized, creating a security vacuum in the Sinai peninsula. Radical Islamic elements in Sinai exploited the opportunity, using the unique environment, in launching several waves of attacks upon Egyptian military and commercial facilities.

According to The Economist, the conflict also involves local armed Bedouin "who have long-standing grievances against the central government in Cairo" and that "they are barred from joining the army or police; they find it hard to get jobs in tourism; and they complain that many of their lands have been taken from them".[5]

Since the ouster of the then Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, militants intensified their attacks. They say they are retaliating against the government crackdown on Morsi's supporters, which has killed hundreds and thousands have been arrested.[25]



Attacks on commercial facilities[edit]

Following the Egyptian revolution in 2011, insurgency attacks increased and begin attacking the Arab Gas Pipeline, running into Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and its offshoot from al-Arish to Israel - constantly disrupting Egyptian gas supply to the entire region.[citation needed]

July 2011 Egyptian police station attack[edit]

On 30 July 2011, militants staged an attack on an Egyptian police station in El-Arish, killing six.[26]

On 2 August 2011, a group claiming to be the Sinai wing of Al-Qaeda declared its intention to create an Islamic caliphate in the Sinai.[27]

Operation Eagle[edit]

Main article: Operation Eagle

Operation Eagle was an Egyptian military campaign in the Sinai Peninsula that was launched on 14 August 2011 to confront Islamist insurgents and criminal gangs threatening Egypt's national security and to restore law and order.[28] Islamist insurgents had been attacking the Egyptian security forces in the Sinai and using the area as a base from which to attack Israel since early 2011.


August 2012 Sinai attack[edit]

On 5 August 2012, a group of armed men ambushed an Egyptian military base in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 16 Egyptian soldiers and stealing two Egyptian armored cars, and then infiltrated into Israel. The attackers rammed through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Israel, while one of the vehicles exploded. The attackers then engaged in a firefight with soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, and six attackers were killed during the firefight. No Israelis were injured.[29] The attackers were dressed as Bedouins and attacked with guns and rocket-propelled grenades.[30] 35 attackers took part in this attack on the Egyptian base.[31][32]

Operation Sinai[edit]

The August 2012 attack on Egyptian armed forces triggered a crackdown, led by the Egyptian Army, Police special forces and the Air Force, sweeping the Sinai Peninsula for Jihadist militants.[33] During the operation, 32 militants and suspects were killed and 38 arrested, while 2 civilians had been killed by early September 2012.[34]


May 2013 hostage crisis[edit]

On May 2013, a number of Egyptian Army police officers were taken hostage by armed tribesmen in the Sinai peninsula, with their videos released on the internet begging for their lives. As a response, Egypt’s government had built up security forces in northern Sinai as part of an effort to secure the release of six policemen and a border guard kidnapped by suspected militants. On 20–21 May, Egyptian troops and police, backed by helicopter gunships, conducted a sweep through a number of villages in northern Sinai, along the border with Israel.[35] The officials said the forces came under fire from gunmen in vehicles, triggering the clashes. The clashes left one gunman dead by 21 May.[35] The hostages were released on 22 May after talks between the captors and Bedouins.[36] One suspect in the kidnapping was arrested on 30 May 2013.[36]

July 2013 escalation following Morsi ousting[edit]

Since Mohamed Morsi's ouster on 3 July, there has been an increase in violence by armed Bedouin and Islamists.[5][20] Attacks on security forces have been witnessed almost daily since his ouster — leading many to link the militants there to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Morsi hails.[37]

In response, Egypt launched "Operation Sinai", bringing in two additional battalions.[38]

In the two weeks since 3, 39 July terrorist attacks have occurred in North Sinai. In the resulting clashes between armed groups and security forces, 52 gunmen and civilians and six security personnel have died.[39] On 15 July, witnessed the highest civilian casualties, when a bus transporting workers to the army-operated Al-Arish Cement Company was attacked. Five were killed and 15 were wounded. On 16 July, attacks resulted in some of the most intense army engagement, concentrated at Al-Masa'id, Al-Joura, and the Central Security camp at Al-Ahrash.[39]

Security operations have been largely confined to the 40-kilometre area between Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, extending northward toward Rafah along the border with Israel and up to the Karam Abu Salem crossing.[39] Fighting intensifies between the gunmen and the joint army-police forces at night.[39] The frequency of attacks has varied from two to five in a single day. In addition, targets have expanded from fixed security checkpoints to mobile patrols. In most operations, the gunmen use four-wheel drive vehicles and combinations of light and heavy weaponry. However, in three recent attacks RPG-7 launchers were used, most likely smuggled from Libya. The G-7 grenade is capable of penetrating armoured vehicles and is generally fired at the doors.[39]

On 27 July, operation dubbed "Desert Storm" was launched by the Egyptian army in North Sinai Governorate and will last for 48 hours. Two of Egypt's field armies, as well as the country's Air Force and Navy are reportedly taking part in this large-scale operation. The military are said to be blocking all the roads, bridges and tunnels leading from Northern Sinai to other provinces of Egypt.[40]

A bomb was placed at a hotel frequented by security officials on 2 August 2013, though it caused no injuries.[41] A security source told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that a majority of "terrorists" had been arrested as of 3 August 2013.[42] 2 mausoleums were bombed on 4 August 2013, though no injuries resulted.[43]

25 Egyptian policemen died in an attack in the northern region of Sinai, on 18 August. After militants forced two mini-buses carrying off-duty policemen to stop, ordered the policemen out and forced them to lie on the ground before shooting them.[44] The Egyptian military arrested eleven people, including five Hamas members, three local residents and three foreign nationals, for their alleged involvement in the killings.[45] The person who committed the murders confessed on 1 September 2013.[46]

Military spokesperson Ahmed Ali said that Egyptian security forces recent operations in Sinai, from 5 July to 23 August, resulted in: 78 suspected militants killed, including 32 foreigners; 116 people injured; and 203 people arrested, including 48 foreigners, for their alleged involvement in attacks on security checkpoints in the peninsula. Additionally 343 tunnels on the border between Egypt and Gaza at Rafah have been destroyed.[47][48]

On 3 September, fifteen Islamist militants were killed in an attack by military helicopters.[49]

On 7 September, the Egyptian army launched a new operation in the region. The operation involved tanks and at least six Apache helicopters. The army have been jamming communications to thwart militant coordination.[50] The army combed through areas near the Gaza Strip, including locations used by militants suspect in the killing and abduction of Egyptian soldiers over the past year. In the three days of operations, since 7 September, one officer, two soldiers and 29 militants were killed, and 39 militants were arrested.[51][52]

On 11 September, suicide bomber targeted Egyptian military intelligence headquarters in Rafah, bringing down the structure, at the same time a car bomb had rammed an army checkpoint. In the simultaneous attack at least nine soldiers were killed.[51]

On 24 December, 16 were killed and over 134 injured in a huge bomb which hit the Daqahliya Security Directorate in Mansoura, in the worst attack on a government site since the ouster of Morsi in July. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group deemed Egyptian troops infidels because they answer to a "secular government", warning them to desert or face death.[53][54]


Over the few months leading to 2014, the Egyptian army gained the upper hand in the battle against militias that have found safe haven in the peninsula. After isolating and largely clearing the populated northeastern Sinai, the army put many militant factions on the defensive, most notably Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. However, one thousand armed militiamen are still sheltering in the main stronghold in Jabal Halal, as well as Jabal Amer area. Both were expected to be targeted in the presumed spring offensive.[55]

On 26 January, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a militant group claimed responsibility for an escalating series of attacks on police and soldiers, and said in a statement posted on jihadist websites that it had succeeded in "downing a military helicopter with a surface-to-air missile and killing its entire crew in the area around the city of Sheikh Zuweid" in North Sinai, near the border with Gaza.[56] Earlier that morning masked men in an SUV attacked a bus carrying soldiers in Sinai, killing at least three and injuring at least 11.[56]

On 3 February, in what described as the biggest operation in the Egyptian army's ongoing offensive against militants in the Sinai, 30 suspected militants were killed and another 15 injured in a series of airstrikes and another 16 were arrested.[57]

2014 Taba bus bombing[edit]

Main article: 2014 Taba bus bombing

On 16 February 2014, a bomb exploded on or under a tour bus of a South Korean church group in the Egyptian city of Taba, which borders the Gulf of Aqaba and Eilat, Israel. The bombing killed 4 people – 3 South Koreans and the Egyptian bus driver – and injured 17 others.[58] According to The New York Times, the bombing could "offer worrying new evidence that militants who have been attacking Egypt's security forces for months were broadening their campaign against civilians."[59]

October 2014 Sinai attacks[edit]

On 24 October 2014, 31 army and police soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in North Sinai. The attack was the largest ever since the start of the war on terror in Sinai. As a result of the attack, president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a state of emergency in the governorate after meeting with the National Defence Council for several hours. The state of emergency was to last for three months and to include a daily curfew from 5pm to 7am until further notice.[60]

On 10 November 2014, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forming the Sinai Province group with a confusingly similar name to two Egyptian regional governments.[61]

On 14 November 2014, ISIL published a video online that included footage of the group carrying out the October 2014 Sinai attacks.[62]



On 12 January 2015, Sinai Province kidnapped a police officer while traveling in North Sinai and took him to an unknown location. On the following day on 13 January 2015, Egyptian military spokesperson announced the discovery of the dead body of the officer after launching a search operation. He also said that during the operation 10 militants were killed, while 2 others were arrested.[63]

On 26 January 2015, Sinai Province published a video online that included the kidnapping and execution of the police officer kidnapped on 12 January.[64]

January 2015 Sinai attacks[edit]

On 29 January 2015, militants from the Sinai Province militant group launched a series of attacks on army and police bases in Arish using car bombs and mortars.[65] The attacks, which occurred in more than six different locations, resulted in 32 confirmed deaths including army personnel and civilians.[66]

Security response[edit]

It was reported that on 6 February 2015 Egyptian security forces attacked the Sinai Province group, killing 47 Islamic militants in Northern Sinai.[67]


On 10 March 2015, a suicide attack on a police barracks using a water tanker was stopped after security forces opened fire on the water tanker causing it to explode before it could get into the barracks. One civilian near the scene was killed and two others wounded in the blast, alongside dozens of wounded policemen.[68]


On 2 April 2015, an attack on an army checkpoint resulted in the death of 15 soldiers, 2 civilians and 15 attackers. As a response to the attack, the Egyptian army launched an operation the following day allegedly killing 100 militants.[69][70][71]

On 8 April 2015, eleven civilians were killed in Sheikh Zuweid when an unidentified rocket-propelled grenade hit their homes.[72]

On 12 April 2015, 6 soldiers were killed when their armoured vehicle was bombed in North Sinai. On the same day, a separate attack on a police station in Arish resulted in the death of 5 policemen and 1 civilian. The attack on the station was carried out by a suicide bomber using a bomb-laden vehicle. Militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the attacks.[73]

On 27 April 2015, members from Al-Tarabin tribe in North Sinai launched an attack on Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis positions in Rafah.[1] The attack came after Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis gunmen fatally shot a member of Al-Tarabin tribe in Berth village in southern Rafah, North Sinai, after he refused to take their warning statements ordering them not to deal with the Egyptian military.[74]


On 16 May 2015, three Egyptian judges and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in North Sinai. The attack came hours after a Cairo court issued a preliminary death sentence against former president Mohamed Morsi and 105 other defendants on a range of charges, including murder.[75]


On 9 June 2015, militants fired rockets at the direction of an airport in Sinai used by the multinational peacekeeping forces.[76]


July 2015 Sinai attacks[edit]

On 1 July 2015, Sinai Province militants launched one of the largest attacks ever, since the insurgency begun in 2011, on multiple Egyptian army checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 21 soldiers. The attack also targeted Sheikh Zuweid police station. Reinforcements from the Second Army Zone stationed in Ismailia have been deployed to Sheikh Zuweid, and F-16 fighter jets were spotted targeting militants in the city. Militants have reportedly killed several civilians who refused to allow them onto their rooftops to target security forces.[77]An army statement claimed the killing of more than 100 militants from the attacking force. The militant death toll increased in the following days, due to Egyptian military operations in the region, reaching 241 killed.

On 4 July 2015, a shell bomb struck a house in Sheikh Zuweid, killing a woman and her two children. On the same day, a roadside bomb targeting army and police vehicles killed a five-year-old child in Rafah.[78]

On 15 July 2015, twenty militants were killed as security forces repelled an attack on a security checkpoint in North Sinai.[79]

On 16 July 2015, Sinai Province militants attacked an Egyptian navy patrol ship near the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. The patrol ship was hit by a guided missile. The Egyptian military confirmed the incident and said in a statement that there are no fatalities among the vessel’s crew. The attack is considered the first maritime attack of the Islamic State and its allied militant groups.[80]

On 23 July 2015, an officer and three soldiers were killed and three others were wounded when an improvised roadside bomb hit their armoured vehicle in a village near the town of Rafah.[81]

On 24 July 2015, the Egyptian army said it has killed 12 terrorists and destroyed two warehouses storing explosive materials.[82]

On 31 July 2015, the Egyptian military bombed areas of the North Sinai towns of al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, killing 20 suspected militants.[83]


On 1 August 2015, Egyptian army forces surrounded the home of a leading figure of the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, before shooting him dead.[84]


Operation Martyr's Right[edit]

On 8 September 2015, the Egyptian military launched a major operation code-named "The Martyr's Right". The operation is the largest and most comprehensive operation aimed at rooting out and killing terrorists since July's immediate response to militant attacks. The operation targeted sites in Rafah, Arish, and Sheikh Zuweid, all towns in the northern areas of the peninsula.[85] 535 militants were killed in September 2015.[86]


On 31 October 2015, Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed near Housna, North Sinai. The Islamic State's Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the incident.

Areas of insurgency[edit]

According to Reuters, as of 2013, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis was in control of about a third of the villages in Sinai.[87] Now, daily clashes with militants in North Sinai are reported by the army.[25] The insurgency has not spread to south Sinai, where there are tourist hubs. In the northeastern part of the peninsula, checkpoints have often been established by militants as the army lack the power to stop them. The militants have captured and assassinated policemen there.[88]

Outside of Sinai[edit]

On 24 December 2013, sixteen people were killed and over a hundred people injured in a huge bomb which hit the Daqahliya Security Directorate in Mansoura. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack.[53]

On 5 August 2014, 5 policemen were killed in an attack on a police car on Matrouh road by armed militants.[89]

On 28 November 2014, the militant group Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the killing of 2 army personnel in Cairo and Qaliubiya.[90][91]

On 1 December 2014, Sinai Province claimed responsibility for killing a United States citizen in Egypt's western desert in August 2014.[92]

On 21 December 2014, the Egyptian police raided an Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis cell in the Nile Delta killing 5 members.[93]

On 26 December 2014, two Ansar Bait al-Maqdis militants were killed in a gunfight in El-Salam City, on the eastern outskirts of Cairo.[94] The Ministry of Interior later identified one of the dead militants as the commander of Ansar Beit El-Maqdis in the Nile Delta.

On 11 July 2015, a car-bomb exploded near the Italian consulate in Cairo, killing one person and injuring nine others. None of the Italian staff of the consulate were injured as the establishment was still closed at the time of the explosion. Later, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.[95]

In the Gaza Strip[edit]

Out of the approximately 15 main militant groups operating in the Sinai desert, the most dominant and active militant groups have close relations with the Gaza Strip.[96] The Army of Islam, a U.S. designated terrorist organization based in the Gaza Strip, is responsible for training and supplying many militant organizations and jihadist members in Sinai.[96] Mohammed Dormosh, the Army of Islam's leader, is known for his close relationships to the Hamas leadership.[96] The Army of Islam smuggles members into the Gaza Strip for training, then returns them to the Sinai Peninsula to engage in terrorist and jihadist activities.[97]

Forces and strategy[edit]

The disposition of Egyptian forces in Sinai peninsula mandated by the Camp David Accords and monitored by the 1,600 foreign troops that make up the Multinational Force and Observers. Egypt is permitted only enough forces in Sinai to enforce security.[98]

With Israeli approval, in 2011 Egypt sent additional 2,500 troops and 250 armored personnel, with helicopters as part of Operation Eagle, a mission to provide security during the power transition from then-recently fallen Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.[98] Operation Eagle was joined by Operation Sinai in 2012, which came in response to a militant attack against an Egyptian border post 5 August that killed 16 border guards. Together, the two operations increased the total troop count by more than 2,500 added 80 vehicles and at least two attack helicopters. Egypt also was allowed to deploy armed fighter jets to El Arish to assist its ground forces in Sinai.[98][99]

Egypt's expanded force structure in Sinai is designed to deny militants sanctuary by bringing more force to bear than the municipal police alone can provide. Many of the new forces are stationed in the northeast of Sinai along the Egyptian border with Gaza. Setting up roadblocks and checkpoints to monitor and inspect traffic transiting the Sinai Peninsula to counter this smuggling.[98]

In the October 2014 attacks, for the first time the militants in Sinai used suicide truck bombs to breach army roadblocks and strongpoints, then followed them with an infantry attack.

After the October attacks, the Egyptian military began using armed drones for the first time since the Sinai insurgency began.[100] And as a measure to counter weapon and militant trafficking between Egypt and Gaza strip, the Egyptian government announced the creation of a buffer zone along the Egypt-Gaza border.[101]

Following the attacks on army and police bases in Arish in early 2015, the Egyptian President issued a decree to create a unified military command for the east of the Suez Canal to combat terrorism. Led by General Osama Roshdy Askar, it will guide counter-terrorism activities of the Second and Third army.[102]

On 27 April 2015, Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decree ordering the isolation and evacuation of new areas in North Sinai's Rafah city, thus expanding the buffer zone.[103]

A shift in the militants strategy appeared in the July 2015 clashes. Zack Gold, Middle East analyst, views the battle as a change in strategy from hit and run tactics toward an ISIL-like 'holding' of territory.[104]

As an effort to limit car-bombs attacks, Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decree banning 4X4 vehicles in army-operations zones in Sinai.[105]



In the two years since 2011, Israel has approved two Egyptian military increases in the Sinai Peninsula above levels set in the Camp David Accords, which mandates that the Sinai must remain demilitarized, with only enough forces in Sinai to enforce security.[98][99][106] Israel did so because it is not in its interest to have unrest in Sinai, whether political protests or militant violence.[98]

However, in late 2012, concern began to be raised as Egypt began deploying more force and tanks without coordination from Israel. On 21 August, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that it is important for Israel to make sure that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is upheld, and not to remain silent as Egyptian military forces enter the Sinai. Concern was raised by Israeli officials over Egyptian failure to notify Israel about the deployment of tanks in the Sinai, which violates the peace treaty. Lieberman said, "We must make sure that every detail is upheld, otherwise we'll find ourselves in a slippery slope as far as the peace treaty is concerned."[107]

On the same day, Israeli daily Maariv reported that Israel sent a message to Egypt via the White House, protesting Egypt's ongoing increase in military presence in the Sinai without coordination from Israel, and telling Egypt that it must remove tanks from the Sinai because their presence violates the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, which states that Sinai Peninsula is to remain demilitarized. The Israeli daily Maariv reported was reinforced by an article in The New York Times, which stated that Israel was "troubled" by the entry of Egyptian tanks into the northern Sinai Peninsula without coordination with Israel and had asked Egypt to withdraw them.[108] Partly due to Egypt's military deploying tanks in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel is increasingly worried about what has long been their most critical regional relationship.[109] The lack of coordination around their deployment is seen as potentially undermining a peace treaty that has been a cornerstone of Israel’s security for decades according to the New York Times.[109] Israel is also concerned that Egypt may use Operation Eagle to build up its military presence in the Sinai, and leave the tanks and armored carriers in the Sinai while not doing much more than symbolic action to eliminate the terrorist threat.[110]

Israel has not issued a formal complaint, and instead prefers to resolve the issue through quiet contacts, as well as mediation from the U.S., to avoid straining its relationship with Egypt.[111]

On 24 August 2012, a senior Egyptian military source said that Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak have reached an agreement on the issue of the militarization of the Sinai. Al Hayat reported that Sissi phoned Barak and said that Egypt was committed to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel.[112] Sissi also said that the militarization was temporary, and was needed for security and to fight terrorism. However, an Israeli defense official denied that such a conversation took place.[113]

In late August 2012, Morsi said that the security operations do not threaten anyone, and "there should not be any kind of international or regional concerns at all from the presence of Egyptian security forces". Morsi added that the campaign was in "full respect to international treaties. The Egyptian-Israeli peace deal places limits on Egyptian military deployment in the Sinai. Officials in Israel were concerned about Egypt building up heavy armour in Sinai.[114]

On 8 September 2012, an Israeli official confirmed that coordination exists between Israel and Egypt regarding Operation Eagle. Egyptian Military spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Ali had earlier announced that Egypt has been consulting with Israel regarding its security measures in the Sinai.[115]

On 2 July 2015, one day after the attacks on 15[116] Egyptian Army checkpoints, Israel announced that it was giving Egypt a "free hand to operate in northern Sinai against local jihadist groups, voluntarily ignoring an annex to the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords banning the presence of significant Egyptian forces in the area."[117][118]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to Egypt for the terrorist attacks that rocked that country on July 1. He further stated that "we are together with Egypt and many other states in the Middle East and the world in the struggle against extreme Islamic terrorism."[119]

United States[edit]

According to CNN, in a move to increase security in the Sinai, help Morsi, and reassure Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered Egypt classified intelligence-sharing capabilities to help Egypt identify military threats in the area, which he discussed during his recent trips to Egypt and Israel. The technology has been widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify vehicles at great distances. The technology may also be used by the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai. The United States is also offering increased intelligence sharing, including satellite imagery and drone flights, as well as cellphone intercepts and other communications among militants suspected of plotting attacks.[120]

On 22 August 2012, the State Department urged Egypt to be transparent over Operation Eagle and any security operations in the Sinai. The State Department said that the United States supports Operation Eagle against terrorism, but stressed that Egypt must continue coordination with Israel regarding these operations and military increases in the Sinai, according to the 1979 Camp David Accords.[121] The State Department also called on Egypt to fulfill its obligations under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and deal strongly with security threats in the Sinai, while ensuring that "lines of communication stay open."[122]

On 23 August 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, urged Amr to maintain lines of communication with Israel, and emphasized the importance of being transparent over the militarization of the Sinai.[111]

Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai[edit]

The Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, a 1,650-strong international organization created in 1979 during the Camp David Accords with peacekeeping responsibilities, kept a low profile during the intensification of Operation Eagle in 2012. A representative for the organization said that "we are unable to respond to queries from the media at this time" in response to whether Egypt asked permission to move weaponry into the Sinai, and whether Israel granted it.[123]


The Egyptian pipeline carrying natural gas to Jordan, has been attacked at least 15 times since the start of the uprising in early 2011.[124] The lack of Egyptian gas hit Jordan budget severely (by JD 1.4 billion or the equivalent of USD 2 billion yearly for the past two years) and they are looking for Egypt to compensate for the lost quantities.[125]


A Mada Masr journalist questioned the accuracy of Interior Ministry reports on at least two accusations.[126] A CBS journalist named Clarissa Ward went in undercover to the Sinai and saw evidence of a scorched earth policy.[127]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]