CAIRO, August 12, 2013 (AA)
CAIRO, August 12, 2013 (AA)
A Sinai-based jihadist group urged residents of the peninsula to retaliate against Israeli targets to avenge the killing of four of its members in a Friday air-strike, which, it alleged, had been launched by Israel.
At least four militants were killed on Friday in an attack said to have targeted a rocket launcher operated by suspected jihadists in the North Sinai city of Rafah, amid conflicting reports about the source of the air-strike.
Jihadist groups in Sinai allege that an Israeli unmanned aerial drone was behind the attack, noting that the militants had been targeted as they prepared to fire rockets towards Israeli territory.
“What happened should motivate the tribes to rally around and support their mujahedeen sons,” a statement by a group calling itself ‘Majlis Shura al-Mujahedeen Fi Aknaf Beit al-Muqdas’ – posted on several jihadist websites – asserted.
“This grave incident should remind Egyptians that their number-one enemy is the Jews occupying the Palestinian territories,” the statement read.
The group added: “Egyptians were distracted for decades from fighting this criminal enemy because of the policies of apostate leaders, but the day has come in which Egyptians feel the heat of Israel’s fire by the killing of their mujahedeen, which should spur Egyptians to prepare for combating the Jews.”
The statement went on to call on Sinai residents to join the fight against Israel, urging them to turn the militants’ deaths into “a fire that consumes all enemies, traitors and criminals.”
A separate statement by the Salafist Jihad group in Sinai offered condolences for the deaths and accused the Egyptian army of “collaborating” with the Israeli military, which the group accused of carrying out Friday’s air-strike.
The Egyptian army “has stopped protecting the country and deterring its enemies – the main role of any army – and has focused on achieving the interests of the US and Israel in Egypt and the region, even by suppressing and killing Egyptians and jeopardizing the interests of the nation and its citizens,” the statement read.
The Egyptian army, for its part, has said that one of its military helicopters – not an Israeli drone – had struck the rocket launcher in the Arjaa district in southern Rafah after spotting gunmen moving toward it.
A military spokesman dismissed alleged security coordination between Egypt’s military establishment and its Israeli counterpart as “baseless, insane and illogical.”
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, meanwhile, has asserted that Israel “respects Egypt’s total sovereignty,” stressing that his country would not allow “rumors and speculation” to harm the 1979 peace treaty between Cairo and Tel Aviv.