Israel agrees to more troops in demilitarized Sinai

Second deployment of Egyptian military forces will crack down on Bedouin violence and protect natural gas pipeline to Israel.

February 16, 2011 21:51
1 minute read.
A Beduin man rides a camel on Sinai beach.

sinai beach camel 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Israel has agreed to a second deployment of Egyptian military forces in the Sinai Peninsula to crack down on Beduin violence and protect a gas pipeline that supplies natural gas to Israel.

The decision to permit the deployment of additional troops in Sinai came after the government allowed Egypt to deploy two battalions of about 800 troops in the peninsula earlier this month. The new deployment was made under the condition that the forces will withdraw the moment they are asked to by Israel.

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Israel is concerned about reports that Egyptian police have abandoned Sinai in the face of growing Beduin violence and fear the territory will turn into a global jihad breeding ground. Egyptian police left dozens of stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Beduin armed with missiles and assault rifles.

“It will take the Egyptians a long time to restore order in Sinai,” a senior Israeli security official said.

Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel gave back the captured Sinai to Egypt.

In return, Egypt agreed to leave the area, which borders southern Israel, demilitarized. The arid peninsula lies between Egypt’s mainland and Israel, and Israel was worried about an Egyptian invasion then.

According to defense officials, Israel decided to allow the Egyptians to deploy more troops in Sinai in small numbers to secure the gas pipeline and prevent the smuggling of weaponry from the peninsula into the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, terrorists bombed a gas station in Sinai, leading to a suspension of gas supplies from Egypt to Israel.

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