Barak: Israel regrets the deaths of Egyptian policemen

Defense minister expects to open investigation into incident along border with Sinai; Egyptian embassy official denies recall of ambassador in TA, says Cairo interested in mediating between Hamas and Israel.

Egyptian flag 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Egyptian flag 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday said that "Israel regrets the deaths of Egyptian policemen [killed] during the terror attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border."  Speaking during a security briefing with IDF Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Barak said that "the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is of great importance and strategic value for the stability of the Middle East."

An Egyptian army officer and two security men were killed Thursday when IDF forces pursued the armed assailants who carried out a multistage terror attack killing eight Israelis.
Egyptian anger over the incident intensified when Barak said that Egypt was "losing its grip" on the security situation in Sinai shortly after the attacks were reported along the border with Egypt. 
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The defense minister was expected to open a military investigation into the deaths of Egyptian forces in the border incident. Later, a joint investigation with the Egyptian military will be launched in order to clarify the circumstances of the incident.

On Sunday morning, reports began circulating that Egypt was recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv. However, despite the rumors, a senior official at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv told Israel Radio Saturday that no decision has been taken to recall Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Ridah to Cairo.

The Egyptian embassy official stressed that Cairo stands behind its demand that Israel apologize for remarks that harmed Egypt, referring to a statement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak saying that Egypt lost its grip on Sinai, and that a commission be created to investigate the killing of Egyptian soldiers on Thursday.

Egypt, the official said, is looking to calm the current regional situation and return its relations with Israel to their proper place.
Egypt was reportedly acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas in an effort to stop the escalation taking place in the Gaza Strip.
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