Sunday night's terror attack
at Kerem Shalom highlighted the more severe ramifications of the upheaval in the Arab world: Salafi terrorists belonging to global jihad, arms smuggling from Sinai, the motivation to embarrass Egypt
and to turn Israel
and Egypt against each other. The incident also indicated that the jihadist terrorists, for whom Sinai
serves as a safe haven, plan to ignite the region by creating a situation whereby the Egyptian army appears to be involved in an attack on Israel. The terrorists apparently planned to take advantage of the initial shock their infiltration into Israel could have caused to kidnap a soldier or citizen.
Sunday's attack on an Egyptian army base showcased the terrorists' military experience, planning capabilities and audacity. The level of the attack itself would not have shamed an elite army unit. The terrorists were apparently carrying weapons transferred from Libya.
These weapons helped them overtake the Egyptian soldiers securing the Kerem Shalom border crossing, who were inadequately armed.
During the first phase of the attack, the terrorist took control over the Egyptian military base and seized an Egyptian-made armored truck. They later used the truck to breach the border with Israel.
A similar operation took place a few years ago in the same area. During that attack Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees attempted to infiltrate Israel aboard large vehicles under cover of the early morning fog. That attack was thwarted by the Bedouin reconnaissance unit. Yesterday's attack was similar, and possibly not coincidentally.
This time the terrorists used vehicles they had seized from the Egyptian army to drive over barbed wire fences and infiltrate Israel. It is possible that they blew up the booby-trapped truck themselves to destroy the fence. In the operation's third phase, an armored vehicle carrying terrorists entered Israeli territory. Had they succeeded in avoiding IDF
forces, they could have reached Highway 232, and from there they could have advanced to nearby Israeli communities such as Kerem Shalom. However, IDF forces in the area, which apparently had advance intelligence on plans for an attack, brought the operation to a halt with a few missiles.
The attack was not connected to the IDF's targeted killing on the same day of two global jihad terrorists in Gaza.
The terror attack, had it not been thwarted, could have led to a direct clash between the Israeli and Egyptian armies. The third "victim" was supposed to be the Muslim Brotherhood
movement in Egypt, which global jihad deems too moderate.
Global jihad, as opposed to other groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, aims to establish the rule of Salafi-Wahabi Islam – which originated in the Arabian Peninsula. They seek to establish this rule first in the Muslim countries of the Middle East, and then throughout the entire world. Movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood have relatively moderate religious ambitions that incorporate the national goals of their respective counties. They also advocate social activity to help the poor. The jihadists have just one goal – to establish "global Islamic emirates" that are ruled in accordance with sharia law.
Chaotic regions have become safe havens for jihadists from the entire Muslim world, and from the Middle East in particular. This phenomenon began in Afghanistan and then spread to Somalia, Libya (following the Arab awakening) and to sub-Saharan countries such as Nigeria and Mali. In our region, these jihadists are concentrated in the Sinai Peninsula, north Lebanon,
and now in Syria
The IDF and the Egyptian military are continuing to cooperate in an effort to curb the jihadist threat. In their recent talks with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo, US Secretary of State Clinton
and Defense Secretary Panetta
stressed the urgent need to address the threat posed by al-Qaeda
and jihadist groups operating in chaotic regions. These groups threaten not only Israel and the West, but also the recently-established Muslim regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and other countries.
According to reports, the Egyptian army heads told the Americans they were aware of the problem, and Sunday's attack apparently served as an unpleasant reminder of the jihadist threat. In the future Israel and Egypt may have to secretly agree that the IDF will be in charge of directly thwarting such attacks.
Israel may also ask Egypt to erect a barrier (a ditch or a wall) to prevent explosive-laden vehicles from advancing towards Israel. In addition, further cooperation is required between Jerusalem and Cairo to prevent the jihadists from achieving their main goal – which is igniting the region and instigating war between Israel and Egypt.