The recent massacre of 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Gaza border in Sinai has fingers pointing, people crying, accusations flying and tensions escalating. But what’s missing in the melee is the truth.
It is no secret that Egypt-and especially Egyptians-do not like Israel. During my time spent in Egypt I was appalled beyond belief the way they talked about Israel and Israelis (one young man: “If I saw the Israeli president I would shoot him instantly”). Although I do not approve of how Israel has treated Palestine and Palestinians, I still believe that this small strip of land should be home to everyone, whether they are Jewish or Muslim or Christian. Thanks to strategic treaties (which made the rest of the Islamic world shocked at Egypt’s olive-branch attitude) relations between Israel and Egypt were calm. The Gaza strip was even opened in the past year to allow people to pass through.
But have a skirmish errupt on the Israeli-Egyptian border, and no questions asked: it’s Israel’s fault. Egyptians are protesting infront of the Israeli embassy (again) to force the ambassador’s removal (how many times does he have to vacate the country? At that point I’d say, forget diplomatic relations, I’m going home and staying there!) and the general consensus is that Israel is behind the deaths.
Since the news is often politically slanted, it’s hard to tell. CNN’s article on the massacre quotes President Morsi as vowing “to capture those who conducted this traitorous attack on our sons,” traitorous being the key word: a traitor is one of your own, not your already sworn enemy. Hence, his choice of language-or the translation-could be a slip of the tongue, but it’s still something interesting to note. Then, even more tellingly, we have the scene at Al-Rashdad mosque, where the soldiers coffins were brought in Cairo, where, according to Ahram online newspaper, the Prime Minister was beaten by an angry crowd yelling “You killed them, you dogs” and complaining about both the Muslim Brotherhood (who is pointing the finger at Israel) and President Morsi himself.
The uncertainty as to who the 35 gunmen were thus remains. They could have been Israelis, sure, but this is highly unlikely. Why? Israel doesn’t need to stir up more drama and gunfire in the Middle East; it certainly doesn’t need nor want to go openly badgering one of it’s neighbors in such a belligerent way, even if [the government] is unhappy with the fact that an Islamist was elected to Egypt’s presidency, and even if Israel, with it’s highly skilled army and arsenal, would obviously win. Yes, the gunmen tried to cross over into Israel (what happened to them? Does anybody know? Why has their whereabouts not been reported on?) but, as some (such as Israel itself) have pointed out, they could have been a radical faction trying to invade into Israel.
More evidence that it was likely not the Israelis? Not only did a UK newspaper report the militants as being dressed as Bedouin, but an another Ahram article reported that a police car had been hijacked in Sinai as well, by Egyptian locals in the area who were upset. That, plus the fact Israel has returned about 7 bodies of the gunmen who they found with explosives clearly shows that Israel’s hands are clean in the these tragic Sinai events.
The gunfire that has been taking place in Sinai recently makes one question many of the events that have since occurred. If the public voted, sans corruption, for President Morsi, than why are they berating his government? With such evidence that Israel was not behind the attacks, how can the Muslim Brotherhood continue to insist that it was Israel’s doing (as does Lebanon’s Hamas) with a straight face? It is disturbing that the gunmen did what they did, and it is more disturbing that they were very likely Egyptian, as they killed the very soldiers who are there to protect them, their “brothers.” Either the militants are extreme fundamentalists or they are trying to cause trouble for Morsi’s government (or likely they’re both, since Morsi recently renounced his Brotherhood membership).
The Middle East is weathering what one could argue is their most difficult era yet. With tensions between Israel and Iran still quite frigidly high, there is no need for Egypt-already internally weak and struggling for control with it’s army-to engage in combat with Israel. Furthermore, there is no need for Egyptian’s to split into further political groups and camps simply because of one incident. It’s time to listen and get the facts straight.
1. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/49888.aspx “Police vehicle hijacked in Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula”