Barak supports Egypt’s maneuvers in Sinai

As massive operation to control Sinai launched, Defense Minister says he hopes the Egyptian military operation will restore law and order.

Sinai Bedouin guns pipeline_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Sinai Bedouin guns pipeline_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel supports the Egyptian military operation in the Sinai Peninsula which it hopes will restore law and order to the territory, believed to be home to a growing number of al-Qaida terrorists, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday.
On Sunday, the Egyptian military deployed 1,000 soldiers and hundreds of armored personnel carriers in the Sinai with the aim of uprooting terrorist infrastructure and restoring order to the peninsula which was lost following the revolution in Egypt in February.
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One person was killed, and 16 others were arrested in Sinai on Monday as part of the raid launched by Egyptian troops and policemen, state television said, according to the French news agency AFP.
The Egyptian troops exchanged fire with the al- Qaida suspects wanted by authorities, an official said.
“Ten people suspected of involvement in the Sinai attacks were arrested,” the official said, adding that three automatic rifles and four grenades were also seized, according to AFP.
Barak was supportive of the military action. “Due to a shift in attention in Egypt, there has been a lack of order and control over the Sinai,” he said during a tour of a future IDF military base in the Negev.
“The military asked to go in to restore its grip and we do not oppose it since it is something that is in Egypt’s interest and will hopefully lead to a drop in weapons smuggling [to the Gaza Strip].”
Last week, head of the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau Amos Gilad visited Cairo to discuss a wide range of issues with the interim Egyptian government, including the operation in Sinai.
Israel gave Egypt approval to insert the troops into the Sinai in February to crack down on Beduin violence and to protect a 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 demilitarized.