CAIRO: A convoy of Egyptian and international media personnel headed to Gaza was postponed Friday at the last minute due to what the government is calling an anticipated “wide-scale extermination” operation against Sinai militants, Youm7 reported.
A number of journalists arrived at the meeting point in a Cairo hotel, but security officials informed them that some roads leading to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza were closed on security grounds.
Gunmen are still present on roads connecting Arish with Sheikh Zuwayed, man checkpoints and check travelers’ identities against lists of locals “wanted” by militants, security sources told Youm7.
Jihadist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis recently posted a video of the decapitation of four Bedouins, claiming they collaborated with Israel. The Bedouins’ families said the victims were executed because they provided the Egyptian military with intelligence.
Five main squares have been closed since Thursday in Sheikh Zuwayed because security troops are in their vicinity and have warned they may be targeted by militants, the sources told Youm7.
All the main and side streets leading to the North Sinai Security Directorate headquarters, the Central Prison, the Central Security Camp and all police stations in the governorate’s cities have also been closed.
Although under a firm security grip, militants in North Sinai still occasionally strike security targets in the scarcely populated governorate. Their most recent attack killed 10 soldiers and a military officer Tuesday with a bomb planted on the road.
On July 19, the Egyptian military prevented an aid convoy of activists from reaching the Rafah crossing during the July-August Israel-Gaza war, citing fear for the convoy’s security in the militant-active peninsula.
The convoy was finally allowed to deliver aid on July 24, albeit using a different route.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Hussein and Mohamed Essayed.