Israel, Jordan Rocket Attacks Raise Specter of Renewed Sinai Violence

Israel, Jordan Rocket Attacks Raise Specter of Renewed Sinai Violence

A recent rocket attack on the twin Red Sea resorts of Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan raises the specter of renewed Bedouin violence in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, where security forces are struggling to fight crime, illegal immigration and terrorist threats, as well as to protect oil and gas pipelines.

In the wake of the attacks, an Egyptian security operation aimed at uprooting militant Palestinian and Bedouin groups as well as jihadist elements confirmed Israeli and Jordanian claims that the rockets had been launched from Sinai. It was the second such attack in four months. Security forces discovered evidence of a misfired Grad-type rocket during the operation that focused on the mountains near the resort of Taba as well as areas near Sinai's border with Gaza that have been declared off limits to foreigners. Days before the attacks, security forces reportedly arrested three men in a bomb-laden vehicle they intended to explode in the resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

Egypt has long had difficulty maintaining law and order in the Sinai, crucial to the country's tourism industry. Bedouin tribesmen operate an extensive smuggling network that tunnels supplies into the beleaguered Gaza Strip and sneaks African migrants across the border into Israel. Tribesmen assisted in a spate of bombings of tourism resorts in the Sinai between 2004 and 2006 in which 145 people were killed. A group believed to be linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility in 2005 for rocket launched from Sinai at U.S. war ships docked in the port of Aqaba, and Egypt has since announced various arrests of Palestinians seeking to launch projectiles from the peninsula.

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