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Egypt deployed troops in Sinai without Israel’s prior approval

Egyptian security forces arrest suspected militants after a firefight at the al-Goura

The Egyptian army has been deploying large anti-terrorist forces in parts of the Sinai peninsula without informing Israel in advance. The peace treaty between the two countries limits the Egyptian military presence in Sinai.

Some of the Egyptian forces in the peninsula were sent there with Israel’s consent, but Haaretz has learned that forces have also been deployed without Israel’s prior approval. Israeli government officials only learned about it after the fact. Although Israeli defense officials declined to comment on the matter, they did note that there has been good security cooperation between the two countries, adding that there is regular contact between the two sides.

The Egyptian troop movements come in response to the expanding power vacuum in Sinai. On August 5, militants took over an Egyptian border post in the peninsula, killing 16 soldiers and stealing two armored personnel carriers that then headed to the Israeli border. One of the APCs exploded in the Kerem Shalom border terminal linking Egypt, Gaza and Israel; the other drove two kilometers into Israeli territory before it was hit in an Israel Air Force strike.

According to the 1979 peace agreement negotiated at Camp David, Egypt is not allowed to introduce tanks into certain areas of Sinai, including the vicinity of Al-Arish, to which dozens of tanks have been transported over the past several days. The treaty also bars the use of fighter aircraft, including helicopters, but that was approved retroactively by the Israeli security cabinet.

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