Egypt Dilutes its Forces Along Gaza Border

Egypt moving forces from Sinai to Libya to fight ISIS threat; Israeli security officials worry it may spur terrorist takeover in Sinai.

Cynthia Blank ,

Egyptian helicopter over the Sinai
Egyptian helicopter over the Sinai
Flash 90

In recent weeks, Egypt has begun diluting its forces stationed along the Philadelphi route on its border with Gaza, Israeli defense officials warned Thursday. 

This move has prompted fear among defense officials that a terrorist takeover could occur in Sinai and violence against Israel would resume. 

Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delighted the Israeli defense establishment when, in recent months, he allocated substantial resources to fight terrorism in Sinai - particularly, the destruction of smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza as part of the construction of a buffer zone.

However, with the threat of an Islamic State (ISIS) presence in Libya on its western border, Egypt has started transferring large numbers of forces there. 

"Egypt is working according to its priorities, and at this time the Libyan border is more threatening," a defense official told Walla! News. 

"It is a border of more than a thousand kilometers being penetrated by ISIS terrorists, raging across Libya and murdering Egyptian citizens," he explained. 

"The transition of special forces from Sinai to the border with Libya will harm Egypt's pressure on terrorist organizations that may act against Israel," the official warned. 

While Israel's cooperation with Cairo in the fight against terrorism has tightened and been very effective in the past year, there is still cause for concern in Israel. 

In light of recent tensions with Washington, Cairo has begun to get closer with Russia, which could play against Israel in the future.