Egypt and Israel: Joint Understanding on Sinai Security: An Indication of New Middle East?

The Interior Minister of Egypt, Ahmad Ed-Deen, stated in the government-run newspaper Al-Akhbar, that it has identified seven persons who are under suspicion for having carried out a deadly attack on an Egyptian military post on 5 August, killing 16 border guards and injuring several others. Ed-Deen explained that the assailants had been identified during the ongoing, extensive security operations in the Sinai. The unprecedented joint Egypt – Israeli security operations in the Sinai could be a precursor of more comprehensive changes in the Middle East. 


Neither Egypt´s Interior Minister Ed-Deen nor other officials have explained whether the seven suspects have actually been arrested or not. The Ministry refuses to provide further details about the persons, stating that the release of more details could negatively affect the ongoing operation.

The Interior Minister stated that the operation started immediately after the attack on the Egyptian border forces on 5 August and that it is still ongoing. The Egyptian military has deployed army, air-force, tanks and armored vehicles as well as heavy artillery into the Sinai. Egypt´s military is closely cooperating with hundreds of Israeli soldiers. This military cooperation is unprecedented since the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Both Israel and Egypt officially declared that the security operation initially caused some concern. Egypt´s deployment of tanks and heavy artillery into the Egyptian Sinai constitutes a violation of the Camp David Peace Agreements of 1978 and 1979 between Egypt and Israel.

The government of Israel however, explained that it understands the need for Egypt´s deployment of forces into the Sinai to maintain security and that the operation was in the interest of both Egypt and Israel. A joint Egyptian-Israeli  agreement about the deployment of Egyptian troops was reached shortly after the attack that killed the 16 Egyptian border guards.

Analysts differ in their evaluation of the change in Egypt – Israeli relations. While some welcome the increased cooperation on security, others raise concerns that the incident that caused the cooperation may have been manufactured by Egyptian and Israeli Intelligence services, and that it is part of a comprehensive plan that includes the establishment of a Hamas led Palestinian State in Gaza which will be controlled by Egypt.

A few months ago a Palestinian intelligence source in Turkey released information that the Palestinian fraction Hamas, which has its roots in prominent Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood families has made a political U-Turn in 2010. Hamas has for years been closely allied with Iran and Syria.

According to the Palestinian intelligence source, Hamas has covertly realigned itself with the Qatar based International Muslim Brotherhood in 2010. This information is corroborated by the fact that Hamas, only days after declaring its solidarity with the Syrian government, fled its Syrian office in Damascus after the information was made public.

Hamas has reportedly been offered a leading role in a “Palestinian Spring” after the planned fall of the Syrian Baath Party led government and President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the establishment of a separate, Hamas led Palestinian State in Gaza.

The full scope of the planned, comprehensive solution for the Middle East, includes the establishment of a Hamas led Palestinian Emirate in Gaza, the permanent annexation of the Syrian Golan Highs and parts of Southern Lebanon. The plan also includes the permanent annexation of large sections of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Progressive Palestinian Fractions which are represented in the PLO and the Palestinian National Council, including Al-Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, DFLP, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP, are accusing Hamas of plans to divide Palestine, to establish a separate Palestinian State in Gaza, and to abandon Palestinians throughout the other Palestinian territories.

Prominent members of progressive fractions have also accused Hamas for involvement in the planning and execution of the recent violence in Gaza. Hamas is reportedly operating in collusion with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt´s Military Intelligence Service, as well as with Israeli Military Intelligence.

The unprecedented Egyptian – Israeli joint security operation is by many analysts seen as a precursor of more far-reaching, unprecedented and comprehensive changes in the region.

Dr. Christof Lehmann

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