Daily Israel Report

Egypt's Military Boosts Presence in the Sinai

Hamas says Egypt's military has boosted its presence in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel says move was coordinated with it.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/3/2013, 5:44 AM

Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula
Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula
AFP photo

Egypt's military has boosted its presence in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Gaza, a source in the Hamas terrorist group that controls the territory said on Tuesday, AFP reported.

"The Egyptian army has intensified the presence of its armored personnel carriers along the border with the Gaza Strip in the last few days," a security source from the movement told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The IDF confirmed that Egypt had boosted its military presence in the Sinai, where the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries imposed strict controls on deployments, but said the action had been coordinated with Israeli leaders.

"The Egyptian military activity in the Sinai is coordinated with Israeli security elements and authorized at the most senior levels in Israel, in order to contend with security threats in the Sinai that pose a threat to both Israel and Egypt," the army said, according to AFP.

The Sinai has seen an upsurge in lawlessness since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 that has sparked warnings from Western governments against travel to most parts of the peninsula.

Criminal activity like drugs smuggling and human trafficking has flourished alongside a growing presence by terrorist groups that has seen attacks on Egyptian security personnel and across the border against Israel.

In August 2012, terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the border before commandeering an armored vehicle which they drove into Israel, where they were killed in a helicopter strike.

In March, Bedouin kidnapped an Israeli and a Norwegian tourist in the south of the peninsula, which is dotted with beach resorts, to press for the release of jailed relatives.

The tourists were held for five days and released unharmed.

In April, armed Bedouin tribesmen freed a Hungarian peacekeeper after briefly detaining him to press for the release of a jailed relative.

Last month it was reported that there is a high level of Al-Qaeda terrorist activity in the region.

The terrorists have set up a military base in central Sinai, Egyptian security officials said.