Egypt Declares State of Emergency
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi declared a state of emergency after massive terror attacks this weekend in the northern Sinai killed 30 soldiers and wounded 31.
Speaking at the funerals of the slain soldiers on Saturday, el-Sisi announced the indefinite closure of the Rafah Border Crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and imposed a sundown to sunrise curfew in the area, Israel Army Radio reported. El-Sisi also postpone ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, slated to restart in November.
Former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel told CBN News the complexity of the situation makes it difficult to stop it completely. The Egyptian army launched an operation against the terrorists a year ago, with Israel's approval because the terrorists also represent a threat on Israel's southern border.
"First, the terrorists hide themselves among locals. Second, there are a lot of terrorists, weapons and explosives coming from Libya and Sudan. Terrorists are amassing on Egypt's border with Libya," Mazel explained.
There are well-organized Bedouin smuggling networks facilitating the transport of weapons and jihadists, and Iran is interested in "destabilizing Egypt" by supplying whatever is needed, regularly smuggling weapons through Sudan, sometimes on ships -- the main reason Israel has been unwilling to lift the naval blockade on Gaza.
"Sudan was the main supplier of weapons from Iran to Hamas," Mazel said.
One of the most troubling aspects, he said, is the Obama administration's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its lack of support for el-Sisi.
"Egypt counted on the U.S.," Mazel told CBN News. "They let Egypt suffer. They need training, helicopters, assistance. The Americans should be helping with the battle against terrorists in Sinai and they don't give the help."
In an analysis in Monday's Jerusalem Post, Mazel wrote "Relations between the two countries are still fraught, though America is now grudgingly dispatching 10 Apache helicopters that were meat to have been delivered a year ago."
Gaza is a haven for terrorist training, he said.
"In Gaza, they can easily work, train people, manufacture explosives. They're safer in Gaza, which serves as a logistical base for weapons and terrorists," Mazel explained.
Egypt also has a plan to relocate Bedouin tribesmen in the area. It's a mixed bag because on the one hand they aid jihadists and on the other they're a good source of information on terror cells in their area.
Meanwhile, senior Egyptian military official, Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi, who was head of security in the northern Sinai, says Palestinian terrorists played a substantial role in the deadly weekend attacks.
"[There's] no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks," Asharq al-Awsat quoted Beshadi.
"All the big terrorist operations that have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of the year," he said, speaking of an attack last January that killed five soldiers.
Jihadist terror cells, including Hamas, flourished during the one-year reign of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.