MK: Egyptian Sinai Troop Deployment Beginning of Major Threat
Commenting on reports that Egypt has deployed forces in Sinai without coordinating the move with Israel, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said that Israel was acting “like an ostrich.” Ariel, chairman of the Knesset Oversight Committee, said that “the Egyptians have for a long time been systematically violating the Camp David peace treaty, but the government of Israel continues to hide its head in the sand.”
The report in Ha'aretz Thursday morning said that Egypt has moved thousands of troops into Sinai, beefing up forces to battle the Islamist groups that have more or less taken over the peninsula. According to the Camp David Accords, in which Israel ceded the entire Sinai to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty, Egypt is supposed to deploy only police in Sinai. Israel must agree to the deployment of other forces. In the past, Israel has assented to temporary entry of Egyptian army troops for specific purposes and a limited time period. According to Thursday's report, Egypt did not ask Israel for permission to deploy the army troops in what is supposed to be a demilitarized zone.
Speaking on Israel Radio, several commentators connected Wednesday night's attack on Eilat by Islamists to the Egyptian decision, with the Islamists said to be trying to goad Israel to raid Sinai, in the hope that they will end up facing off against Egyptian soldiers. An Islamist group called the "Salafi Sinai Front" claimed responsibility on Thursday for the Eilat attack.
“If the government doesn't take all the direct or international steps it can to prevent this Egyptian violation of the Camp David Accords from continuing, we will soon find ourselves with troops and tanks facing our border,” said Ariel. “We will have yet another security threat to deal with on our southern border,” he added.