Bedouins on the Sinai border
Photo: Reuters
Cairo warns armed Bedouins endanger Israeli border
Egyptian parliament's defense committee says police unable to control smuggling tunnels, heavily armed tribes on volatile border

The Egyptian parliament's defense committee says the situation at the border with Israel is dangerous because of heavily armed Bedouin and police inability to control smuggling tunnels.


The state-owned Al-Gomhuria daily, in its early Wednesday edition, said committee members warned parliament of increased smuggling operations through the tunnels and the unrestricted spread of weapons among the Bedouin.


The committee which visited northern Sinai after last week's violent clashes between angry Bedouin and police said the situation "threatens Egypt's national security at the borders with Israel."


The clashes flared last week after police killed a Bedouin smuggler. Three more Bedouin died in the subsequent fighting.


Earlier this month Egyptian police shot and killed three Bedouin men during clashes in a restive area of the Sinai Peninsula near the Israeli border. Five policemen were injured in the clashes.


During the initial fighting, Bedouin tribesmen surrounded about two dozen Egyptian policemen in a security checkpoint building near the border town of Rafah, located about six miles (10 kilometers) from
the Israeli border, the security officials said. Shots were fired in the air, but it was not clear if anyone was injured.


Tension is high between the Egyptian government and Bedouin of the Sinai, who complain they are discriminated against and not given job opportunities in the mountainous desert peninsula that is home to some of Egypt's top beach resorts.


Bedouin smugglers use the border areas to send weapons, drugs and other items into the Gaza Strip, often through underground tunnels. Traffickers also ferry African migrants seeking to enter Israel.


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