Sinai Threatened by Bedouin Group

Published: June 29th 2010
in News » Israel


Security has been tightened along a Sinai Peninsula pipeline which is one of the main sources for Israeli natural gas, as a result of a group of Bedouins who according to Associated Free Press threatened to sabotage it, security officials said Monday.


Bedouins, usually believed to be peaceful Arabs who dwell in the desert in Israel, have also assembled The Bedouin Group; a group of at least a dozen armed fugitives who have been in conflict with Israeli police ever since the group’s leader Salim Lafi escaped from a prison truck during a February ambush that killed a policeman.


Now, Egypt has made the decision to tighten its security surrounding the pipeline after security officials said police received warnings that the group planned on attacking the pipeline. The pipeline has supplied Israel with 1.7 billion cubic metres of gas a year, regardless of Egypt’s opposition during the supply deal of 2008. Israeli infrastructure ministry spokeswoman said Egypt provides about a third of Israel’s natural gas according to Associated Free Press.


Relations with police and the Bedouins have continued to grow tense. Bedouins routinely complain of harassment and discrimination by both the Egyptian government and the Israeli police. Many are said to be impoverished and rely on the smuggling of drugs and weapons into Israel for their living. 


Mussa el-Daleh, a Bedouin activist from central Sinai, where Lafi is believed to be hiding, has described the police threat to Bedouins, "There were threats about the pipeline. But the Bedouin have not reached this point of escalation."


Security officials also said police were increasing security around the El-Arish airport and the Al-Ouja crossing with Israel after Bedouin tribesman attacked a humanitarian convoy bound for Gaza. This incident followed a shootout with police in the Sinai Peninsula Sunday after a search for the Bedouin group leader who fled prison. No one was reported to be hurt during the shootout or the attack of the convoy, according to Canadian Press, though three vehicles were set on fire. 


El-Daleh added, "We are Bedouin. The police don't distinguish between outlaws and others," he said. He added that the threats were in response to a security crackdown after Lafi's escape.


The conflict between Egyptian and Israeli police and these new not-so-friendly Bedouins has resulted in a tightening of security for the safety of Israel and Egypt’s crucial natural gas pipeline.

Related articles: (bedouin, sinai, egypt, natural gas)

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