Conflict & Justice

Israel voices worry over Egyptian tanks, troops in Sinai


Members of the Egyptian security forces take position during an operation in the northern Sinai peninsula on August 08, 2012.

Israeli and Egyptian defense officials were in talks over a recent Egyptian troop and tank deployment in Sinai that has strained a 1979 peace deal between Jerusalem and Cairo, officials reportedly said.

In what the Associated Press described as the biggest test yet of the Camp David Treaty since Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, took power in June, Egypt had illegally moved tanks into the demilitarized Sinai desert near the Israeli border as part of a crackdown on Islamic militants. 

Under the accord, such troop movements must be coordinated, the AP wrote. 

However, The New York Times wrote that:

Egypt has long chafed at the restrictions, contending that restoring security in Sinai, after all a joint Israeli-Egyptian interest, requires additional forces and heavier weaponry.

On Aug. 5, militants on the Egyptian side breached the border, killing 16 Egyptian soldiers in the process.

According to the Jerusalem Post, immediately after the attack Israel's security cabinet approved Egypt's request to use attack helicopters to retaliate.

Israel also agreed last year to allow Egypt to deploy heavier weaponry into more vulnerable areas of Sinai, close to the Israeli border.

However, the movement of US-made M60 tanks went further than had been agreed upon, Israeli officials said Tuesday.

And while Israel had welcomed the latest crackdown, officials said Israel effectively wanted to be notified of any troop movements, giving it "a veto of sorts over Egyptian security strategy."

An official reportedly said: “We understand that the Israelis and Egyptians remain in communication on the issue of security efforts in the Sinai. Egyptian military leaders have reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to the peace treaty with Israel.”

Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad confirmed the Israeli-Egypt talks to Israel Radio, the AP wrote.

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