(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Egypt has enough forces to deal with terrorism in Sinai, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a Tuesday interview with Israel Radio.
"There are enough forces in Sinai, it's now just a matter of making a decision," he said.
The comments came amid speculation that Egypt will request a stronger military presence in the desert following Sunday's terrorist attack
, which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.
Defense officials said Monday
that Israel will consider any Egyptian request to deploy additional military forces in the Sinai in an effort to retake control of the peninsula and weed out a global jihad terrorist infrastructure.
The IDF said the perpetrators of Sunday's attack were part of a global jihad terrorist infrastructure operating inside the Sinai that was made up mostly of local Beduin.
During the attack, some 35 armed men stormed an Egyptian military base, killing 16 policemen and soldiers. On Monday, Egypt branded the attackers “infidels” and vowed to launch a crackdown throughout the Sinai.
Until now, Israel has permitted the Egyptians to deploy about seven battalions in the Sinai, although under the peace treaty the peninsula is meant to remain demilitarized.
The conclusion Jerusalem hopes the Egyptians will draw is that they will act more forcefully to stamp out the global jihadi terrorism that is growing there, threatening both Israel and Egypt.
“Perhaps this will be a necessary wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters in their hands in a more serious way,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.