The Egyptian policeman, Mohamed Salah, who recently murdered three Israeli soldiers serving at the security fence between Egypt and Israel, apparently acted alone. He was not a member of any terror group. But he was prompted by what he read in the Qur’an that he carried with him: a deep hatred of Jews, and a desire to slay the Infidels wherever they might be found. The Egyptian government, having first claimed, baselessly, that Mohamed Salah entered Israel in hot pursuit of smugglers, has abandoned that claim, as it now understands he crossed over expressly to kill Israelis. More on the situation at the border with Egypt, and what should worry Israel the most, can be found here: “‘Smuggling, Not Terror, Is the Real Border Threat,’” by Israel Kasnett, JNS.org, June 11, 2023:
The deadly June 3 attack on Israel’s southern border may have been an isolated incident, but highlighted the larger problem of cross-border smuggling, which is disrupting Israel’s efforts to maintain not only its border with Egypt but also with Jordan.
Efraim Karsh, emeritus professor at King’s College, London, and former director of the BESA Center, doesn’t believe there will be any repercussions from the attack, as Israel views it as an isolated case. He noted that Islamic State has taken responsibility for the incident.
Was the Islamic State really responsible for Salah’s attack, as it now claims? There was nothing he left behind, no notes, no mention of the Islamic State by him on social media, nothing to link him to the terror group. It’s understandable that the Islamic State would wish to get credit for his murders of three IDF soldiers, but Salah looks as if he was a lone wolf.
For its part, Egypt has agreed to compensate the families of the victims.
The Egyptian government wants to do the right thing by Israel, and compensating the families of the soldiers Salah killed will certainly help. It doesn’t want anything to damage its decade-long security cooperation with the IDF. In the Sinai, Egypt relies on Israeli intelligence to help with its campaign against both the remnants of the Islamic State, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas); at times, Cairo has even called on Israel to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the northern Sinai.
In the early morning of Saturday, June 3, Mohamed Saleh Ibrahim, 22, shot dead Sgt. Lia Ben-Nun, 19, and Staff Sgt. Uri Iluz, 20, at an observation post near the border. In the ensuing manhunt, Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the terrorist, inside Israeli territory. Ibrahim, too, was killed in the exchange, and a fourth Israeli soldier sustained minor injuries….
Israel’s Army Radio reported on Sunday that six rifle magazines, a Koran and a knife were found on Ibrahim’s body. According to the report, the presence of the Koran has led the IDF to believe that Ibrahim was motivated by Islamic religious extremism.
However, Egypt claimed that Ibrahim had crossed the border to pursue drug smugglers following an earlier arrest….
The Egyptian government first claimed that Ibrahim had crossed over into Israel in pursuit of drug smugglers, but soon dropped that claim, once it became clear that — armed with a rifle, six rifle magazines cartridges, and a Qur’an — he had always meant to kill the IDF soldiers on duty at the border.
Eyal Zisser, a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University, agreed that the attack was an isolated incident that does not reflect the policies of the Egyptian regime.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, he said, “remains committed to the peace agreement with Israel, and the continued close relationship and military cooperation.”
“For Sisi, a policeman brainwashed by extreme Islam is a threat to his regime and not only to Israel, so we can calm down,” he added….
Zisser reminds Israelis that Sisi is just as, or even more, threatened by committed jihadis such as Mohamed Salah Ibrahim, than Israel, and therefore they need not worry about any breakdown in the security cooperation that benefits both Israel and Egypt.
The presence of ISIS on Israel’s southern border, coupled with the persistent smuggling problem, presents a unique challenge for both Egypt and Israel.
In the Sinai, ISIS, as well as local members of Hamas, try to smuggle weapons to terror groups — mainly Hamas, but also the PIJ — in Gaza. The money ISIS earns from such weapons transfers help it to pay its fighters in the Sinai who have been attacking Egyptian soldiers. There are also reports of drugs being smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai, where they are then transferred to Israel; the smugglers, helped by ISIS and Hamas to evade Egyptian and Israeli border guards, share their profits with both groups of terrorists. Both Egypt and Israel have their own good and sufficient reasons to halt the smuggling.
The problem is even worse on Israel’s eastern border.
In one of the most serious cases to date, in April, Israeli authorities arrested Jordanian parliamentarian Imad al-Adwan after finding 12 rifles and 194 pistols in his vehicle at the Allenby Bridge border crossing.
Further investigation revealed that since February 2022, al-Adwan had engaged in the illicit transportation of a diverse range of goods into Israel. This unauthorized activity took place on 12 separate occasions and was facilitated by the misuse of Adwan’s diplomatic passport. Among the items involved in this illegal operation were exotic birds, electronic cigarettes and gold….
There has been a great increase in the number of smuggling attempts from Jordan over the past few years, and weapons have been the main, though not the only, object of such smuggling. Imad al-Adwan, a member of Jordan’s parliament who apparently thought that would make him exempt from search – he thought wrong – made 12 trips into Israel with smuggled goods. On his last such trip, al-Adwan was discovered to have hidden in his car 12 rifles and 194 pistols which, had they not been discovered, would have been delivered to terrorists in the West Bank, and caused great harm to Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The smuggling of weapons into Gaza from the Sinai, and into Israel from Jordan, has reached such dimensions as to constitute a real security threat to the Jewish state. Israel needs to put more resources – both men and technology – into stopping the smugglers in the south and in the east. For those weapons are intended for one purpose: killing Israelis.