A gas line that previously supplied resources to Israel was targeted in an attack early Sunday morning in Sinai. The latest incident is the 15th attack in less than two years on the former Israeli natural gas pipeline and part of a growing number of incidents rocking the region since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011.
According to the Arab media, the detonation occurred after gunman in a small truck drove up to the pipeline, dug a hole and detonated the explosives from a safe distance. The line was not in use at the time of the explosion.
The spokesman for the Egyptian natural gas company said the intense flames were caused by a residual gas build-up in the pipeline. Residents of El-Arish, where the pipeline is located, though, stated natural gas started flowing into Israel three days before the explosion, at the height of the heat wave that threatened Israel’s power grid.
It is unknown if the terrorists, who have yet to be identified, believed the pipeline was in use, although previous bombings were aimed at protesting the sale of natural gas to Israel. The last incident occurred in April, just prior to Egypt’s abrupt ending to the long standing natural gas agreement, which closed off the flow of natural gas into Israel.
Just hours after the Sunday bombing, a bus carrying IDF soldiers was attacked in the region. No soldiers were injured, although the bus sustained damage in the attack. The IDF responded by declaring a high alert and Egyptian security forces scoured the Sinai region for the suspected gunman.
The latest pipeline attack further dims hope that Israel and Egypt will come to a price agreement on natural gas, ending a four-month natural gas drought. The shortage has forced Israelis to cut back on energy usage in order to prevent blackouts, due to reduced power output in the nation’s natural gas-reliant power plants.