MIDDLE EAST

Report: Israel approves Egypt’s request to bolster Sinai battalions

The Egyptian military was reported to be planning a crackdown on Islamist militants in Sinai. (File photo: AFP)

Israel has reportedly given the green light to the Egyptian army on Monday to “deploy two infantry battalions in the Sinai Peninsula,” according to Israeli media reports.

As a part of the 1979 peace treaty signed by the two countries, each country must approve any additional military forces in the area on either side of the border, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Amid escalating tensions in Sinai fueled by a string of suspected militant attacks in recent days, the battalions are expected to deploy in the El-Arish and Rafah sectors, the Israel-based Ynet news site said.

The move will be part of the effort to quell the increased Islamist terrorist activity.

“The infantry battalions will enter Sinai to support the armored, engineering and special forces that are already operating there, with Israel's authorization,” according to Ynet.

On Sunday evening, the IDF declared a state of alert in areas near the Israel-Egypt border, and residents were told to stay in their homes as tensions have increased because of the fighting on the Egyptian side, according to Israel Radio.

Attacks on security checkpoints in Sinai have occurred almost daily since the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Islamist Mohammed Mursi.

The Egyptian military was reported to be planning a crackdown on Islamist militants in Sinai, according to media reports late Friday, following an attack which left one Egyptian police officer dead and another wounded.

The offensive against “armed gangs and terrorists” in Sinai will include artillery and air power, but the militants will have a chance to surrender, the pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday.

But the timing of Egypt’s reported offensive in Sinai has not yet been confirmed, as the military is currently engaged in maintaining order on the streets of Cairo, after the overthrow of Mursi on July 4.
 

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Last Update: Tuesday, 16 July 2013 KSA 08:45 - GMT 05:45
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