Egyptians expressed grief and anger following the attack Sunday (August 5th) on security forces south of the border town of Rafah in the Sinai province, which left 16 soldiers dead and seven others wounded.
Thousands of Egyptians, including head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, military chief of staff Sami Anan and other senior officers attended a funeral for the soldiers held on Tuesday afternoon in Cairo.
"Whoever kills our soldiers, who are trying to protect our borders, is not a religious person but a criminal who harbours ill will for Egypt," said Gamal Mustafa, 28, who came to Cairo from Port Said to attend the funeral.
President Mohamed Morsi also said he was outraged at the attack, adding that the government will hold individuals responsible for the crime.
"We will take our revenge from those who killed our children and will avenge the attack on our homeland, dignity and borders," Morsi said during a visit to the town of al-Arish in Sinai.
Efforts to avenge those who were killed will be relentless and decisive, Morsi said.
He added that he will monitor the situation by the hour until the people of Sinai, their homes and property are secure and they can live in peace.
"The criminals who threaten the security of Sinai and Egypt will be eradicated, and all crime spots will be eliminated with all available means," he said.
Mahmoud Antar, 35, who works in a café in Cairo's Mohandeseen district, said many café customers who often spend evenings watching Ramadan drama series chose to watch the news instead out of concern and sadness.
"Terrorism leaves a bitter taste," said café patron Moataz Mahmoud. "We Egyptians experienced it during the nineties and are not willing to go through that again. The attack on Egypt's sovereignty and borders is a red line, and we are all against it."
Lawyer Alia Wali, 33, said protecting the Sinai from extremists must be a priority for all governments, otherwise extremism could become an "epidemic" that is difficult to eradicate.
Violence in the Sinai began in earnest in July 2011, when masked gunmen surrounded the al-Arish police station and opened fire on security forces there, killing two officers and three civilians, and wounding 16 others. The group raised black banners inscribed with "No God but God and Mohammed is His Prophet."
There were also several attempts to blow up pipelines in the region that carry natural gas to Jordan and Israel.
Scholars, led by Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, denounced the attack. Gomaa said it was a "criminal terrorist attack" disconnected from the teachings of all religions and human conventions.
He said the government and the population need to "stand together and unite to head off these mischievous hands, and eradicate them from the earth, whatever their political, religious or intellectual affiliations, which only know violence, militancy and blood, and spread terror among peaceful citizens".
Former MP and political science professor at American University in Cairo, Dr. Amr al-Hamzawy, said the attack targeted Egyptian sovereignty.
"We must confront this danger so as not to turn Sinai into a haven for terrorists operating against Egypt," he said.
Al-Hamzawy said it is important to intensify intelligence efforts to identify terrorist elements and remove them from the Sinai.
Al-Hamzawy also said that a security solution must be accompanied with comprehensive economic development in the Sinai to eliminate the main causes that led to the emergence of violent armed groups, including poverty and unemployment.
Dr. Ammar Ali Hassan, a specialist on Islamist groups, agreed that local conditions contribute to the rise of violent groups.
"The environment in the Sinai and its lack of development make it a fertile ground for the emergence of takfiri jihadist organisations, which appear from time to time to achieve their goals and vanish after that," he said.
"Some of these jihadist groups are small in size, not cohesive and seek to revive the idea of an alternative homeland, thereby turning the Sinai Peninsula into their haven."
He said improving the region's economic and social conditions will help integrate the Sinai into Egyptian society and automatically eliminate extremist elements.
"This must be done within the framework of a comprehensive plan whereby the people of the Sinai, state agencies, political forces and civil society work together as one," Hassan said.