An IDF spokesperson said today that it would be irresponsible to suggest that the residents of Eilat can sleep peacefully at night.
His remarks came in response to the deteriorating security conditions along Israel’s border with Egypt, which have led the Education Ministry to issue a directive to schools and youth movements to stay away from the south of the country.
The army has increased both its presence and the number of lookout posts along Israel’s 240 kilometre border with Egypt for fear of a repeat of the terrorist attack that took place last August and which led to the loss of eight Israeli lives.
It will be recalled that Israel withdrew its forces from the Sinai Peninsula, including the valuable Abu Rodeis oil fields, in the context of the peace agreement signed with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat back in 1979.
In that context, the peninsula was declared a demilitarized zone and was divided into areas A, B and C, with the latter only open to international peacekeepers and Egyptian civilian police forces.
Ever since the fall of President Mubarak, the security situation in the region has deteriorated and al-Qaida forces are now known to be operating in the peninsula in conjunction with local Bedouins, who complain that the Egyptian establishment has persecuted and marginalized them.
Israeli chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, has told a Knesset committee on security that the Sinai had become “an area with a wide terrorist infrastructure coming from Gaza and global jihad in defiance of Egyptian sovereignty.”
All of this has consequences for Israel, which continues to look on with anxiety at the fallout resulting from the so-called Arab Spring.