Jerusalem, July 17 — The Israel Defense Forces have foiled at least 10 planned terror attacks on Israel by Sinai-based cells, Israel’s military intelligence chief told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.
“Sinai is a no-man’s land,” Major-General Aviv Kochavi said. “The terror groups in Sinai could attempt to create a diplomatic crisis by way of terror attack. Recently the infrastructure for 10 terror attacks was dismantled and the paths to attack are continually monitored.”
The main causes of the growing lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula are the lack of oversight by Egypt, whose government is preoccupied with the recent uprising and newly elected Muslim Brotherhood president, combined with the dramatic increase in al Qaeda operatives filling the power vacuum there.
The increasing number of terror operations on the Egyptian side of the Sinai was one of the topics Israeli leaders discussed Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her day-long visit to Israel.
In April, Israeli officials reported that a rocket launched from the Sinai hit Israel, although an Egyptian security official disagreed that it originated from the Sinai.
The Sinai has become a common source of terror attacks against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahusaid in the aftermath of the attack.
Israel no longer controls the Sinai, since fully withdrawing in 1982 as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Israel had taken control of the Sinai following the 1967 Six Day War when Israel launched a pre-emptive strike in an attempt to prevent an imminent attack by surrounding Arab armies massing on Israel’s borders. Israel uprooted more than 7,000 of its citizens to give the area to Egypt.
The Sinai has since turned into a lawless area known for drug and human trafficking and other crimes.