Eyewitnesses said that army tanks associated with Operation Eagle in Sinai started to leave Friday morning as tank carriers were seen heading to Rafah empty then returning to Arish carrying tanks.
Witnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm that significant troop movement has not been seen in the last 10 days, speculating that Operation Eagle has been halted.
“What has Operation Eagle achieved that has led to the authorities withdrawing tanks?” Maraei Abu Arar, a Salafi sheikh in Rafah, asked.
“The withdrawal decision was made in accordance with Israeli demands that the operation end. All reinforcements will probably be withdrawn in the coming days,” Arar speculated, calling for the cancellation of the Camp David agreement which stipulates that Egyptian forces cannot operate fully in Sinai.
He added that media reports that Operation Eagle forces have been redeployed are incorrect, saying, “I am from Rafah and have not seen a single armored vehicle for more than two weeks.” Arar believes that the media is under pressure from the state to publish reports on the operation’s strength.
Jihadist sheikh Hamdeen Abu Faisal interpreted the withdrawal as “an indication of the efforts over the last few days after we proved we had nothing to do with the killings of border guards and that the people of Sinai were not involved in the incident.”
“That does not prevent us from rejecting the withdrawal of tanks from the border area,” he added. “We will not accept that our tanks and heavy weapons leave the border because we do not want to lose that gain. Weapons have not reached the border area since 1967.”