Terrorists exploit security loopholes to unleash carnage, say experts

A copy of the Holy Qur’an and remnants of personal belongings of victims of the attack on the Al-Rawdah Mosque. (Reuters)
Updated 08 June 2019

Terrorists exploit security loopholes to unleash carnage, say experts

  • Terrorists often tried to exploit lax security during holiday and religious festival seasons to strike

CAIRO: What are the reasons behind terrorists often choosing periods of religious festivals and events to carry out attacks on Egyptians? Arab News asked experts on Islamic political groups and security issues for their opinions.

Alaa Azmi, a journalist and specialist in armed groups, said that terrorists often tried to exploit lax security during holiday and religious festival seasons to strike.

Armed groups in Sinai affiliated to Daesh had a history of attacking holy places and religious events, said Azmi, an example being in 2012 when the terror group formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis killed 16 members of the Egyptian army during Ramadan.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ghabari, former director of the National Defense College and a security expert at the Nasser Military Academy, said terror groups looked for security loopholes or took advantage of tensions in areas where they had already carried out attacks.

He told Arab News that attacks in the seasons were aimed at sending messages to the world about poor security in Egypt, which were often swiftly followed by retaliatory Egyptian military operations.

The most prominent of these were deadly blasts at Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria during Easter celebrations in April 2017, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 worshippers.

Egyptian societies expert, Dr. Magda Mostafa, said that “spoiling the joy of Egyptians is the main reason that drives the terrorists to launch their terrorist operations during holidays and events.”

She added that the armed organizations wanted to create a rift among members of Egyptian society. “They aim to drive anger on citizens to accuse the government of failing to protect them, and this is certainly not true.”

Eight Egyptian police officers were killed on Wednesday in a militant attack on a checkpoint in the northern Sinai peninsula. The attack took place near the city of El-Arish as locals celebrated Eid Al-Fitr.

The death of Capt. Omar Al-Qadi during the ambush saw hundreds of villagers gather outside his house to offer their condolences.

A relative of the family, Hajj Mahmoud Outa, said news of the terror attack had shocked the whole community, and he described Al-Qadi as a man of high morals, dignity and humility.

“Terrorists always target us on holidays. They want to turn our lives into hell, but we will stop them, and we will fight until we are victorious,” he said.

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers at Gaza border: ministry

Updated 18 August 2019

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers at Gaza border: ministry

  • Attack helicopter and tank had fired at ‘armed suspects’ along the barrier that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian health ministry said Sunday, hours after three rockets were fired at Israel from the blockaded enclave.

The ministry said another Palestinian was hospitalized in the shooting that came after the Israeli army said an attack helicopter and tank had fired at “armed suspects” along the barrier that separates Israel from Gaza.

“We just identified a number of armed suspects from Gaza approaching the security fence with Israel. We fired toward them,” the army said a statement posted on its Twitter account.

The latest violence came after Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired three rockets at southern Israel late Saturday, the Israeli army said, in the second such attack in 24 hours.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The army said two of the projectiles had been intercepted by its Iron Dome aerial defense system but it did not specify what happened to the third rocket.

Air raid sirens had sounded in the southern town of Sderot and its surroundings.

On Friday Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket at Sderot, in what the army said was the first such attack since July 12.

In response, Israeli warplanes struck at least three targets in the Gaza Strip early on Saturday but caused no casualties, a Palestinian security source said.

The strikes hit a Hamas observation post in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, an unidentified target near Gaza City and open ground near Deir El Balah in the central part of the territory, the source said.

An Israeli army statement mentioned only two strikes, against “underground targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the northern and central Gaza Strip.”

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, ruled by Islamist movement Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.

And since March 2018, regular protests and clashes have erupted along the border of the blockaded coastal enclave.

At least 305 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the border area since then, the majority during demonstrations and clashes.

Seven Israelis have also been killed in Gaza-related violence over the same period.