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Egypt Deploys More Troops in Sinai

Despite its own claim that the security situation in Sinai is excellent, Cairo is deploying more troops near Israel's border.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/7/2012, 8:54 PM

Egyptian Troops Deploy
Egyptian Troops Deploy
Reuters

Egypt's Interior Ministry on Saturday said it is boosting its security deployment at the northern Sinai Peninsula.

According to Cairo's regional commander Salah al-Masri, 150 special police forces were deployed to the area near the border with Israel.

al-Masri said  a "comprehensive new security scheme" which "includes massive efforts to secure the gas pipeline connecting Egypt to Israel and Jordan" is being implemented.

The Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency reported Israel allowed Egyptian officials to dispatch seven military regiments - which could include thousands of troops - to the Sinai in order to curb the growing terror threat in the region.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has already allowed large deployments of Egyptian troops into all three of Sinai's security zones on the pretext of increased counter-terror operations.

A senior IDF source who spoke with Arutz Sheva on condition of anonymity said Cairo's previous deployments were sufficient to secure Egypt's side of the border - emphasizing more deployments were completely unecessary.

Before dawn on Thursday, at least two Grad rockets were fired from the Sinai at the southern Israel resort town of Eilat. One rocket exploded while a second was found in an open area near Eilat Saturday.

That led Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to charge the Sinai had become a "launch pad for terror" since President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in April 2011.

Egyptian officials charged Israel is responsible for Egypt's security vacuum in the Sinai and claimed "the only solution" is to renogotiate the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. .

Under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty the Sinai Peninsula is divided into three security zones in which Cairo can only deploy troops with Israel's consent.

Analysts say Cairo, which made numerous threats to scrap the treaty in the post-Mubarak era, are seeking to use purported security failures as political leverage.

Cairo's own security director for Sinai, Mahamoud El-Hefnawy, told Egyptian media on Thursday that "the situation in the southern sector is excellent."

"There are regular patrols and stakeouts across all roads. If anyone seems suspect they are stopped for inspections meant to stop any terrorist elements from entering the area," he added.