Egyptian military mulls Gaza attack: Report

Egyptian military mulls Gaza attack: Report
Thu Oct 3, 2013 21:24:08

The Egyptian army has established a contingency plan to engage in military intervention in the Gaza Strip if attacks on Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula persist, report cites Egyptian security officials as saying.

Egyptian reconnaissance aircraft have intruded into the Gaza Strip's airspace and surveyed a number of sites in Rafah and Khan Younis as potential targets of military action if attacks against Egyptian troops in the Sinai intensify, Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports Thursday, citing unnamed Egyptian military sources.

According to these sources, the report adds, Egyptian war planes could also target vehicles that travel across the border area to deliver smuggled goods.

They are further quoted as saying that more supply tunnels at the Gaza border with Egypt may also be destroyed as "all options are open."

"The Egyptian army does not believe the population of Gaza is involved in the violence in Sinai, but certain factions strongly support Sinai groups. The tunnels play a major role in the communication between both sides," a senior Egyptian official is quoted as saying in the report.

"In addition, Hamas, although its involvement is limited, is responsible for maintaining control of the smuggling tunnels as well as the factions operating in the coastal enclave," he added.

The report also cites its Egyptian military sources as claiming that the ongoing attacks in the Sinai are carried out by organizations based both in Sinai Peninsula and in the Gaza Strip.

Certain militant groups in the Gaza Strip, according to Egyptian officials, are "behind the violence" in Sinai, including Ansar al-Sunna, which has ties to Hamas, as well as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, among others, the report adds.

As a result, these sources argue, in order to maintain control over the Sinai, the Egyptian army has no choice but to shut down all supply tunnels and strike targets in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip if further red lines are crossed.

The development comes as hundreds of people have been killed and over 2,000 arrested across the African country in the military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since August 14, when Egyptian police forcibly dispersed two protest camps in Cairo's Rabia al-Adawiya Square.

The protest camps had been set up in opposition to the August 3 coup by the Egyptian military, which overthrew democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following major protest rallies against his leadership.

Since then, the Egyptian military has stepped up a campaign against militant groups operating out of the Sinai Peninsula.

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