Civil War Threatens Heavily-Armed Sinai Area South of Israel

Civil war may break out among heavily-armed Bedouin tribes in the Sinai, which has become a lawless area since the Egyptian uprising this year.

Violence in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, directly south of Gaza and bordering the Eilat-Gaza route, could bring more instability to Israel’s southern border, plagued for years by slave trade, infiltration, drug and weapons trafficking by Bedouin and Hamas terrorists.

Egyptian sources warned Sunday that two rival Bedouin tribes, each accusing the other of murder and kidnapping, are headed for war, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

The BBC earlier this week also quoted local Bedouin saying that civil war looms. Egyptian police have left the area since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, whose Sunni authorities restricted Bedouin from following Muslim Sharia practice and teachings.

An arms dealer said business is brisk as Bedouin arm themselves for self-protection. Branding a new Kalashnikov rifle, one water engineer told a BBC journalist, "Before the revolution I never needed one, but now I do. To protect my family. It’s getting much more dangerous here."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet this week that the Sinai Peninsula is a literally a powder keg, where smuggling explosives and advanced weapons from the Sinai into Gaza has increased. Hamas is importing on average a rocket a day, security sources said.

They previously have said that Hamas and allied terrorists possess advanced anti-aircraft missiles that can bring down commercial planes, which have changed routes to avoid coming too close to Gaza.

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