Egypt Vows To Continue Sinai Offensive ‘Until IS Removed’

isEgypt’s military has vowed to continue its attack against Islamic State (IS) militants in the Sinai Peninsula, after clashes left more than 100 dead.

The army maintained that operations will not stop until they rid the area of all terrorist activities.

Air strikes continued into the early hours of Thursday.

The army says 17 soldiers were among those killed after militants launched simultaneous raids on military checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah crossing.

The attack was one of the largest coordinated assaults in the area yet by IS local affiliate, Sinai Province.

It was reported on Wednesday that Separately, security officials said nine members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, including former MP, Nasr al-Hafi, had been killed in a Police raid in Western Cairo.

Sunni Militant Group Claims Series Of Attacks In Egypt’s North

e1368c11d7134d1db08369383d1724a5_18Islamic State’s Egypt wing claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed at least 27 security personnel on Thursday in some of the worst anti-government violence in months, after commemorations around the anniversary of the 2011 uprising turned deadly in the past week.

Most of the casualties were in the provincial capital, El-Arish.

Militant group Sinai Province, which changed its name from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis when it pledged allegiance to Islamic State, said it carried out the “extensive, simultaneous” attacks.

The hardline Sunni militant group has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, drawing U.S.-led airstrikes.

Egypt’s president cut short a visit to Ethiopia because of the attacks.

They represent some of the worst anti-government violence in Egypt for months, and indicate a previously unseen level of co-ordination, correspondents and analysts said.

The flagship government newspaper, al-Ahram, said its office in the city of Al-Arish, which is situated opposite the military buildings, had been “completely destroyed,” although it was not clear if it had been a target.

Later, suspected militants killed an army major and wounded six others at a checkpoint in Rafah, while an assault on a checkpoint south of Al-Arish wounded four soldiers, security sources said. A roadside bomb in Suez city, not in the Sinai, that killed a police officer was not claimed by IS.

Tensions have also been raised across Egypt this week amid protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted then-leader Hosni Mubarak.

Security officials said rockets were first fired at police offices, a military base and a military hotel in El-Arish, before a car bomb exploded at the rear gate of the military base.

More than 50 people were wounded in Thursday’s attacks.

North Sinai has been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when an attack on a checkpoint killed dozens of soldiers.
The army has launched major operations to try to quell violence in the region, but has so far failed.

Sinai Province has become the biggest threat, staging many attacks on security targets.

President Sisi is the former military chief who led the crackdown on Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has said it rejects violence.

Egypt is creating a 1km (0.6-mile) buffer zone along the border with Gaza in a bid to stop militants smuggling weapons in from the Palestinian territory using tunnels.

The project has displaced more than 1,000 families in Rafah and severed an economic lifeline for many Palestinians.

Hamas And Israel Resume Hostilities After Humanitarian Cease Fire

A Palestinian family gathers inside their damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza CityPalestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.

At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.

In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.

“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”

After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.

The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.

Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.

However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.

 

There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.

“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.