(photo credit: Reuters)
Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman
believes Israel is plotting to retake control of the Sinai peninsula,
he said in an interview with Palestinian news agency Ma'an published on
Othman stated that Israel has increased its rhetoric
about lawlessness in Sinai and the subsequent terror threat to Israel,
setting up a pretext to take control of the area.
Shots fired at IDF jeep near Egyptian border
Jewish Ideas Daily: The post-Mubarak Sinai
Egyptian official said that Israeli officials, including Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, are attempting to give the impression to the
outside world that Egypt's post-revolutionary government is incapable of
controlling its border with Israel.
Othman defended Egypt
against claims that Sinai was not sufficiently under the control of the
government. He stated that their was a campaign underway to improve
security in the region, particularly in the northern Sinai on the border
with Gaza. He added that the vast size of Sinai and its difficult
terrain should be taken into consideration when judging the efficacy of
Egypt's control of the area.
The envoy pointed out that the upheaval in the region, particularly in
Libya, has affected Sinai as well. The flow of weapons into Sinai from
Libya is largely believed to have increased since the uprising against
Muammar Gaddafi began.
Israeli officials responded to Othman's claims, saying that the peace
treaty with Egypt - which clearly state that the Sinai is sovereign
Egyptian territory - is a strategic asset for the two countries, Israel Radio reported.
The pipeline in Sinai that carries gas to Israel and Jordan has been
attacked by assailants six times since the fall of former Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak in February. The last such attack occurred on Tuesday.
A multi-staged terror attack
emanating from the peninsula brought about the deaths of eight Israelis
in August. Following Israeli retaliatory strikes for the attack on Gaza
terror targets, Othman said that Israeli operations in Gaza were
complicating Cairo’s efforts to stabilize Sinai.
The Egyptian armed forces launched a security operation
in Sinai in August to root out hundreds of suspected militants believed
to be behind some of the attacks on the pipeline and police compounds
in the peninsula.
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The IDF has been on high alert along the Egyptian border in the
aftermath of the attacks and has significantly beefed up forces and
surveillance equipment there.
In February, Israel gave the Egyptian government approval to deploy
military forces in the Sinai Peninsula to crack down on Beduin violence
and to protect the pipeline that supplies natural gas to Israel. The
deployment was made under the condition that the troops would withdraw
the moment they are asked to by Israel.
Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel returned Sinai to Egypt. In return,
Egypt agreed to leave the area, which borders southern Israel,
An Israeli official said in August that there is a lot of concern about
the lawlessness in Sinai and the trouble Egypt has had in maintaining
“Lack of law and order in Sinai can be dangerous for the region. It can
allow extremists to be active in Sinai. We do not want to see Sinai
become a launching pad for terrorism,” he said.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.
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