Forty Years after Israel Ceded the Sinai, the Territory Remains a Source of Trouble for Egypt

Last month, Egypt celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, which it had lost in the Six-Day War. Since then Cairo has not used the territory to launch attacks against the Jewish state, but it has once again become a bastion of terror—most of which has been associated with Islamic State and aimed at the Egyptian government. Jonny Essa and Ofir Winter examine the situation in the Sinai, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s recent speech on the subject, and the implications for Israel:

Over the past decade, terrorism in Sinai’s northern governorate has led to the loss of thousands of lives of Egyptian civilians and military and security forces, and prompted ongoing instability. . . . The Sinai insurgency is fueled by localized grievances as well as wider regional developments. Its upsurge was boosted partly by the 2011 and 2013 revolutions, which created a conducive environment for insurgency against the Cairo regime, and partly by the influx of Islamic State foreign elements, as some local Bedouin tribes have joined militant Salafi-jihadist groups in a “marriage of convenience.”

As President Sisi implicitly admitted, a major underlying cause of the conflict is Bedouin anger at the Egyptian state’s longstanding economic, social, and political policies that discriminate against and marginalize the Bedouin. These include insufficient political representation of the Bedouin, denial of land rights, and exclusion from the Sinai’s tourism industry. . . . Denied legitimate economic opportunities, some Bedouin elements have turned increasingly to illicit activities, notably smuggling of weapons, drugs, and goods to Gaza and Israel.

Sisi has sought to remedy the situation by investing billions of dollars in economic development and infrastructure in the peninsula, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will bring any real improvements. In the meantime, after a few years of declining terror, the Sinai in the past several months has seen an upswing in the number of attacks.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Egypt, General Sisi, Islamic State, Sinai Peninsula


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7