Sunday, 11 August 2013

Freeman Note: Israeli military and political leaders speculate and postulate way too much, when what is called for is simply action. Instead of worrying about what the Egyptians will think, the IDF must defend Israelis to the maximum. Egypt, FYI, does not worry about Israeli feelings and certainly has been a focus of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel behavior over the course of the entire peace treaty since 1978. We say: if they are upset with us, then we agree to go back to pre-1978 and re-occupy Sinai. Gomarnu!....Bernard

Israel's Sinai dilemma - 08/10/2013 16:37
The growing presence of terrorist groups in Sinai threaten Israeli national security, but unlike the Gaza Strip, Israel can't openly carry out counter-terrorism strikes in sovereign Egyptian territory.            
Egyptian tanks arriving in Sinai city of Rafah
Egyptian tanks arriving in Sinai city of Rafah Photo: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
Reports emerging from the Sinai Peninsula, carrying news of an alleged Israeli drone strike on a jihadi rocket-launching cell, remain unconfirmed. Israeli defense officials have remained silent over the reports, and there is no way to independently corroborate the claims.
If Israel did launch the strike, however, this would signify a dramatic precedent, marking the first time the Israel Air Force conducted a pinpoint, preemptive counter-terrorism strike on Egyptian territory.
Sinai, like Gaza, has become a hornet's nest of terrorist activity, but unlike Gaza, the vast desert province is part of sovereign Egyptian territory, placing Israel in an ongoing dilemma on how to deal with emerging threats. On the one hand is the need to respect Egyptian sovereignty and maintain the strategically vital peace treaty with Cairo. On the other is the obligation to defend southern Israel from the rising terrorist threat.
It seems fair to assume that the dilemma comes to an end when the lives of Israeli civilians or members of the security forces face an immediate threat, with little time to formulate a response. The value of human life should take precedence over all other considerations.
Until now, the IDF's focus in preparing for the deteriorating security situation has been focused on enhancing its ability to quickly identify threats, and direct accurate, devastating firepower at targets that can appear and disappear in the sand dunes.
Other preparations include the soon-to-be complete southern border barrier, stretching from Kerem Hashalom near Gaza to Eilat. The frontier fence is equipped with a range of advanced electronic sensors that feed command and control rooms with data.
Enhanced field intelligence capabilities along the border have been improved. The IDF is seeking to also gain a better understanding of what is occurring south of the border, in order to decrease the chances of being taken by surprise.
Additionally, air defenses in the form of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system have been fortified around Eilat.
The Egyptian military, for its part, is engaged in a major counter-terrorism campaign in Sinai - an effort that has increased tangibly since the ouster of former president Muhammad Morsi.
It's no secret that the presence of al-Qaida-inspired fanatical armed groups in Sinai threaten the national security of both countries.
Sinai's terrorist groups are made up of radicalized local Beduin, residents of Egypt proper, and foreign jihadi volunteers. They have been busy training and procuring arms, including a variety of projectiles, machine guns, and explosives, some of which originate from the abandoned arms storage facilities in Libya.
The IDF's Southern Command assumes that the next incident from Sinai is only a matter of time.
The Sinai balancing act is set to continue into the foreseeable future.