Ya’alon: Egypt set for Sinai counter-terror op

“We receive reports of terror attacks from there every day, and the concern is that the barrels will be turned against us.”

July 23, 2013 16:13
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon on Egypt Border, July 23, 2013.

Ya'alon on Egypt Border 370. (photo credit: Minister of Defense Communications.)

Egypt is poised to launch a large counter-terrorism operation against radical Islamic cells in Sinai, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday during a tour of the southern border.

In Sinai, clashes are under way between Islamist terrorists and the Egyptian army and police, Ya’alon said.

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“We receive reports of terror attacks from there every day, and the concern is of course that the barrels will be turned against us,” he said. “We have strengthened our preparations along the border, and here in Eilat, we mobilized an Iron Dome battery in case someone dares fire at the city.”

The defense minister added, “I hope that the Egyptian security forces overcome the challenge of extremist Islam in Sinai. They have beefed up their forces and are preparing for an assault operation. I hope they succeed in dealing with the security situation in their territory.”

Ya’alon stressed that Egypt has inserted additional military forces – including assault helicopters – into Sinai after receiving permission from Israel, in line with the peace treaty between the two countries.

Israel has approved the Egyptian requests because “they really are directing these forces to fight terrorism,” Ya’alon affirmed.

“We see more effective activities by the Egyptian army and security bodies in recent months, particularly in recent weeks following the regime change that occurred,” he added.

The process will likely go on for “longer than what we’d like to have seen,” Ya’alon said.

The border security fence is three months away from completion, noted the defense minister, and will stretch from Kerem Shalom (on the Gaza border) down to Eilat.

He visited the the Arava Division in southern Israel, and met with senior IDF officers to hear their assessment of the security situation on the Egyptian border. He was briefed by the head of the Southern Command, Maj.- Gen. Sami Turgeman, as well as by the commander of the Arava Division, Brig.-Gen. Nadav Padan.

Ya’alon toured the Sinai border and then visited an Iron Dome air-defense battery deployed near Eilat, where he spoke to soldiers.

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