CAIRO: The state is using Bedouins tried in absentia and wanted by the courts to track the assailants behind recent rocket attacks on Jordan and Israel, a source in Sinai told Daily News Egypt.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that indirect contact between authorities and the wanted Bedouins via intermediaries, such as tribal leaders, had resulted in a search for the unknown assailants who supposedly fired rockets from Sinai into Aqaba and Eilat Aug 2.
One person died in Aqaba as a result of the rocket attacks.
The source added that this had been done before for the search of those behind the Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh bombings in 2004 and 2005.
According to the source, there are always constant negotiations between the wanted Bedouins and authorities in the area through these intermediaries or those who have direct contact with security bodies.
At first, Egypt had denied that the rockets were launched from Sinai, but later admitted that it did, laying the blame at Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, a claim Hamas vehemently denied.
Bedouin spokesman Moussa El-Dilh, who is also wanted by authorities in the Wadi Amr area of Central Sinai for questioning, told Daily News Egypt that the rocket attacks had complicated relations between Sinai’s Bedouins and the state.
“The rocket attacks have complicated matters; the government hasn’t cleared up what happened exactly,” he said. “Many of the tribes met and decided to ask the government to make it clear once and for all who was behind the rocket attacks.”
“We are under siege here at Wadi Amr,” he added, “There are no Bedouins here, wanted or not, who spend the night at their homes.”
Relations between the Bedouins and the state had already been tense prior to the rocket attacks, and only increased when suspicion was aimed at Sinai’s tribes for the attack.
El-Dilh had made it clear in a pervious interview with Daily News Egypt that Bedouins in Wadi Amr were adamant not to hand over fellow tribesmen wanted by the state because the perception was that the state itself did not adhere to its own laws.
High on the list of the most wanted is Salem Abu Lafi, who escaped from a prison convoy that was attacked in North Sinai and in which two policemen were shot. He is believed to be hiding in the Wadi Amr area.
Heavy crackdowns by security forces in the Wadi Amr area on the search for Abu Lafi elicited a strong reaction by residents, who retaliated and a shootout ensued which led to the closure of the road that leads to Al-Oja crossing. Two drivers caught in the crossfire were injured in the shootout.
However, for now, there is an “uneasy calm” in the area, North Sinai Tagammu member Khalil Jabr Sawarkeh told Daily News Egypt, “but in Sinai all problems are delayed till after the [Holy Month of] Ramadan, according to tribal tradition.”