Despite intensive security operations in North Sinai “Sinai Province”, the branch of “Islamic State” (IS) in Egypt, is still active according to social media users and residents.
Several accounts on social media owned by people affiliated with “Islamic State” (IS), have claimed that “Sinai Province” fighters have placed security checkpoints in different parts of the Rafah region. They published photos of flyers, which were purportedly distributed by members of “Sinai Province” to Rafah inhabitants, containing warnings about drug use and smoking.
“Permanent checkpoints set up by ‘Sinai Province’ do not exist; they just appear when state security is absent. Their activity is restricted to kidnapping inhabitants who provide information to the army,” Head of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Tribes Salem Abu Gazala told Daily News Egypt.
He pointed out that “Sinai Province” has no “Islamic police” on the ground, as rumoured, but they take photos at moments when government security forces are absent.
Abu Gazala called on the armed forces and police to provide better protection for the tribes in Sinai.
“Several tribe members have been kidnapped and slaughtered by “Sinai Province” for their co-operation with the army,” he said.
Some “Sinai Province” militants are the sons of tribe members; however, these tribes no longer consider them as sons, according to Abu Gazala.
He called for an urgent religious campaign in Sinai to clarify the teaching of Islam and to oppose extremism.
On the ground, 41 wanted persons, who escaped from judicial verdicts after being accused of bullying and vandalism, have been arrested during military operations carried out by Egyptian security forces and the army.
Sinai has become the scene of frequent clashes between militants and state security forces; intensified counter insurgency operations were launched to curb militancy inside Sinai. These operations have imposed a state of emergency in the northern regions of the peninsula.
State security forces launched their campaign, named “Retribution for the Martyr”, which has resulted in the killing of hundreds of militants in the first and second phases of the operation.
State security forces disrupted internet and phone services Saturday for 12 hours; they then carried out raids in Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah regions.
This disruption caused outrage among inhabitants who need these services to carry out daily duties related to their work and life.
Many parts of the North Sinai governorate are now under partial curfew which has been in place since October 2014, when a deadly attack on an army checkpoint left 30 dead.