Large Egyptian army forces are battling Jihad operatives in the Sinai Peninsula
Tuesday as Israel maintains its heightened alert on the tense southern border with Egypt.
upped its military presence along the border,
including the deployment of two navy war ships,
following a terror warning that had been received indicating that a cell comprising of 10 operatives was in Sinai and was planning to attack Israeli targets. Earlier this month, terrorists killed eight Israelis
after infiltrating the border from Sinai.
Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm quoted Egyptian security sources as saying that forces continue to raid terrorist strongholds in Sinai as part of a special operation on the event of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The operation includes some 1,500 soldiers as well as tanks and armored vehicles.
Egyptian military post in Sinai (Photo: AFP)
The newspaper noted that Egyptian security forces have raised the level of alert for fear of acts of violence during the holiday. They are scanning the border areas of Rafah, El-Arish and Sheikh Zweid, working alongside Bedouin tribal leaders who are trying to convince the Jihad operatives to abandon violence.
Meanwhile, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned that terrorists might take the opportunity of Eid al-Fitr to carry out attacks on Israel. "The Defense establishment has received a warning that a terror cell in Sinai, comprised of more than 10 terrorists, will try to carry out an attack," he said. "The Defense establishment is taking action to thwart this attempt."
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz
ordered a reinforcement of military presence in the Israel-Egypt border and the southern Gaza Strip following information suggesting an Islamic Jihad cell posed an imminent threat in the area.
Also on Monday, it was reported that Egypt and Israel
to increase the number of Egyptian soldiers in the peninsula's areas B and C. The report also suggested that the sides were negotiating additional deployments in the region.
Meanwhile, a high ranking official at Egypt's Higher Military Council said Cairo was considering amending clauses in the 1979 peace treaty
which concern the deployment and scope of forces in Sinai in an effort to boost security and as part of Egypt's post-revolution foreign policy.
Shmulik Hadad and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report