Sinai police have been attacked about 50 times by armed Palestinian jihadi groups and a local branch of Al-Qaeda since the 25 January uprising, according to security sources.
The attacks have been carried out particularly in the mountains of central Sinai, said the sources, who added that certain areas, such as Sheikh Zuwayed, central Sinai and Rafah were now outside the control of security forces.
The sources named the Palestinian militant groups Jaljalat, Army of Islam, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as well as Al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, as being behind the attacks. These groups committed 16 attacks on security checkpoints, three attacks on the second police station in the North Sinai capital of Arish, over 30 attacks on a Central Security Forces station, and four attacks on other Sinai police stations.
The security sources said members of Jaljalat had escaped from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, and that the attacks on the second Arish police station in July were planned by the group’s members after they entered the country illegally three years ago and restarted their activities in Sinai.
“Sinai is now outside of security control, and efforts exerted by the military and police forces have aimed to restore security, especially because a week ago Israel said Egypt is more dangerous to Israel than Iran, which the Jewish state accuses of trying to build nuclear weapons,” said the security source. “One of the greatest concerns is the security vacuum in Sinai, and that militant Islamists now have a foothold [there] with the collapse of security in the region after the ouster of Mubarak.”
A number of armed robberies have also been carried out on mail delivery trucks in the peninsula. In November, a mail truck traveling from central Sinai to Arish was attacked. In December, just over LE1 million was stolen from the Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed post offices. And in a third attack, three were killed and two injured, including a police officer.
Since the uprising, the Rafah Central Security Forces station has been attacked over 30 times with no suspects being arrested. Recently, armed men in the city of Sheikh Zuwayed closed off the main road to prevent presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi from holding a campaign rally there.
North Sinai Governor Major General Abdel Wahab Mabrouk’s car has been stolen and dozens of armed carjackings have been reported both inside and outside Arish.
Another of the primary manifestations of Sinai’s state of lawlessness and security failure have been the 14 bombings of the natural gas pipeline running to Israel and Jordan, for which the perpetrators remain at large.
The Rayesa security post, based at the eastern entrance of Arish, has been attacked dozens of times by armed men with machine guns; they remain at large.
Sinai residents have complained that security forces in Arish have only been securing their headquarters, and while they have closed off all roads leading to the North Sinai Security Directorate, Arish’s first police station, the central jail and the National Security Agency offices, they have ignored the governorate’s main roads.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm