Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Martyr’s Right 4

On 16 July, just nine days after a terrorist attack in Rafah killed and injured 26 soldiers, the army has launched the fourth phase of the Martyr’s Right Operation in Sinai, reports Ahmed Eleiba

Martyr’s Right 4

In its immediate response to the 7 July terrorist attack in Rafah the army killed over 40 of the assailants and began combing operations in pursuit of the remaining terrorists.

According to figures provided by Army Spokesman Colonel Tamer Al-Rifaai in the first two weeks of Martyr’s Right 4, from 17 July to 31 July, another 46 terrorists were killed, 19 suspected terrorist collaborators arrested and four pre-emptive operations undertaken in the course of which 48 four-wheel drive vehicles, 85 motorcycles, a fuel depot, 62 hideouts, 147 explosive devices, 11 weapons and explosives storehouses and 11 bomb-manufacturing workshops were destroyed.

The diagram illustrates some details concerning the army operations

The information Al-Rifaai provided makes it clear that the theatre of military operations involves areas covered by the Second and Third Field Armies. Earlier phases of Martyr’s Right have mostly been restricted to the areas — Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and Arish — for which the Second Army is responsible, although there have been a limited number of operations extending into Central Sinai, the zone controlled by the Third Army. These include the combing/purging operations undertaken in the vicinity of Gabal Al-Halal.

The aim of this latest phase is to eliminate stationary (terrorist lairs and refuges) and mobile targets, and cut off the terrorists’ supply lines. The task of cleansing the main theatre in North Sinai and its extension into Central Sinai will continue until the following aims are achieved: the destruction of the terrorists’ organisational structure through the elimination or capture of its members and the arrest of collaborators who provide logistical support; sufficient intelligence and expertise is acquired in the course of the operations to allow pre-emptive operations to be expanded; the infrastructure that terrorist organisations rely on — bases and strongholds used as platforms to stage operations, hideouts and ammunitions and explosives storehouses, SUVs and motorcycles, bomb-making materials and communications networks — are destroyed; complete control over all major and secondary roads in Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, Arish and surrounding villages, is achieved, and routes along which the terrorists can move from this are blocked and sufficient information is gathered to allow for any counter-measures taken by the terrorists to be foiled.

The army’s counter-terrorist forces are at the forefront of these operations though the air force remains the common denominator due to the need for air cover and aerial reconnaissance.

In the course of the ongoing operations booby-trapped vehicles were identified and destroyed and in a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism in Sinai the army has succeeded in unearthing and neutralising explosive devices planted on the roads along which they pass.

The pre-emptive operations undertaken during phase four of Martyr’s Right signal another qualitative shift in the battle. Of particular importance is the closing of funding channels such as happened on 13 July when a motorcyclist carrying a large sum of money destined for the terrorists was stopped. Other pre-emptive actions have succeeded in intercepting terrorists before they could complete their planned attacks. An attack in Rafah on 24 July which could have caused between 50 and 60 deaths among civilians and soldiers was foiled, though seven civilians were killed as the terrorists were intercepted.

Current operations expanded to include maritime targets when the navy took out a launch that was speeding towards territorial waters.

What is clear is that Sinai’s terrorist networks are still able to obtain four-wheel drive vehicles to use as booby-traps despite warnings against using such vehicles in Sinai and the ban placed on them crossing the Suez Canal. Attention is now focussed on how these cars are smuggled into Sinai, and from where.

Martyr’s Right was first launched in September 2015. Its second and third phases began in January and April 2016. The current phase began on 17 July. Most phases followed major terrorist attacks in Sinai.

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