Israel mulls boosting Egyptian presence

Aug. 7, 2012 at 8:01 AM
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JERUSALEM, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Israel may allow Egypt to boost its military presence in the Sinai after 16 Egyptian police and soldiers were killed in an attack, officials said.

Under the peace treaty with Egypt, while the Sinai Peninsula is meant to remain demilitarized, Israel has permitted approximately seven Egyptian military battalions to deploy in the area in an effort to deal with the growing terror threat there, unnamed Israeli defense officials told The Jerusalem Post.

In the wake of Sunday's attack, Egypt may submit a request to deploy additional soldiers in the region in an effort to gain control of the area and uproot the global jihad terrorist infrastructure, the officials said.

Israel won't object to Egypt bringing heavier military forces into the Sinai Peninsula for the purpose of combating terror groups, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Intelligence Dan Meridor told Army Radio on Tuesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused Israel's Mossad of perpetrating Sunday's attack, a statement that led to a protest outside the Israeli ambassador's residence in Cairo, Ahram Online said. Protesters called on the government to sever ties with Israel, the Web site said.

"This crime can be attributed to the Mossad, which has sought to abort Egypt's revolution since it first began," the site said, quoting a statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood. The group called on the Egyptian government to modify the Camp David peace agreement.

Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas leadership in Gaza echoed similar statements.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu toured the border area Monday where a group of about 35 armed men attempted to infiltrate Israel after storming an Egyptian military base. In the shootout that ensued Israeli soldiers killed eight attackers, six of whom were wearing explosive belts, the Israeli army said.

"I also want to express my sadness at the killing of the Egyptian soldiers," the Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced an official state of mourning over the killing of the Egyptian security personnel and vowed the attack would not go unpunished, Ahram Online said.

After attacking the Egyptian military base, the band commandeered a truck and an armored vehicle and headed toward Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The truck contained an estimated half ton of explosives and got stuck in the sand and exploded, the Post said. The armored vehicle sped into Israel and was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli aircraft about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the border inside Israel, causing it to stop, the Post said.

As the attackers scrambled out of the vehicle they were shot by Israeli soldiers. An Israeli tank fired a shell, destroying the vehicle.

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