Following the recent statements by the Egyptian Foreign Minister that his country may use military force against the Gaza Strip, sources in the army have told local media in El-Arish that there is a contingency plan in place for bombing the beleaguered territory. The Egyptians accuse Palestinians of being involved in violent activities in the Sinai Peninsula, a claim denied by the government in Gaza.
The sources revealed that Egyptian reconnaissance aircraft have identified specific sites in Rafah and Khan Younis which would be targeted in any aerial attack which might be launched if violence in Sinai escalates. Potential targets, it is claimed, include cars being smuggled through the tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza. The tunnels themselves would also be considered, "as all possibilities are on the table".
A number of groups in Gaza are blamed by the Egyptians for being involved in the Sinai violence, including Hamas, Ansar Al-Sunna and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis. The army, it is said, is starting to get "impatient" and is preparing to strike the Gaza targets.
"The Egyptian army doesn't believe that the people of Gaza are involved," said the sources, "but it believes that there are organisations there which support those in Sinai and the tunnels play an important role in the communications between the groups on either side of the border." The Hamas government is blamed by Egypt for not controlling activity in the remaining tunnels.