In August 2011 an attack from infiltrators from Sinai in Southern Israel killed seven Israelis. Israel responded by bombing Gaza and killing 14 Palestinians, although later investigations revealed that all the perpetrators had actually been Egyptians. Moreover, only during the last year 14 attacks have been launched against pipelines in Sinai providing Israel with gas. Israel now has to find alternative supply for 20 % of its consume because of these attacks. And in March 2012 rockets fired from Sinai were landing in the Israeli tourist town Eilat. This security situation is close to unbearable for the Israeli government. Israel’s problem is that to clear their border area of the Sinai security threat they need to enter Sinai militarily. But to enter Sinai militarily would be in violation of the Camp David agreement with Egypt. With the popular mood in Egypt against the peace agreement with Israel, opening up the Camp David agreement for renegotiation could lead to it becoming abolished.
The Egyptian government are reportedly aware that it is impossible for them to secure Sinai militarily without cooperation from the Bedouin tribes living there. Numerous declarations on investment in infrastructure and aid for the marginalized Bedouin population have been heard recently, and meetings have been held between the Egyptian interior minister and Bedouin sheikhs representing the tribes of Sinai. But it takes more to regain the trust of people who for decades have been treated as if they were enemies of the state. Moreover, and as Abu-Lughod anticipated, the political transformation that have occurred in Egypt and the Arab world also have had an impact within tribal groupings. Also within tribes youth challenge patriarchal power, state authorities, while being attracted to radical Islam. Accordingly the power of the old sheikhs is not what it used to be. The old sheikhs no longer have their traditional patriarchal control over the various segments of their tribes. This phenomenon has been observed throughout the region, with tribal groupings and clans where the elder no longer control the young who forms their own clan factions dressed up with jihadist ideology, like Jaish al Islam from the Dughmush clan in Gaza.
As patriarchal ties wither also within tribal groupings, the bill for discrimination of Bedouins over decades presents itself. The lesson is that political marginalization of any grouping in the Arab world may eventually hit back at the state with a vengeance. The price for an enduring marginalization of Bedouins in Sinai is a chaos that might threaten Israeli – Egyptian peace.
*Identity of the perpetrators of August 2011 Israeli southern border attack is not really confirmed or agreed.