The Egyptian Militery positions, which have been adjusted by 180 degrees in the past year and which now face the Sinai Peninsula, are a testimony to the fact that the southwest border has become even more combustible.
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The construction of the border fence is set to be completed by the end of the year and the IDF is already in the midst of planning the second stage of border fortification: IDF positions will be moved a few kilometers to the east inside Israeli territory and will become rear positions – as is practiced in the Gaza Strip.
IDF patrolling southern border (Photo: IDF Spokesman)
The positions will be replaced with pillbox posts along the border and will be manned in accordance with the changing security assessments in the area. The IDF's Gaza Division is planning on placing long-range remote control machine gun systems on the pillboxes, which will be operated by soldiers from an operations room – subject to budgetary approval.
The plan is already underway: The northern sector of the border which extends for dozens of kilometers, from the border triangle of Kerem Shalom crossing to the area of Kadesh Barnea, anti-tank ditches are being dug over fears that Sinai terror cells will use advanced missiles with the goal of hitting Israeli vehicles from a distance of four kilometers away from their targets.
Coordination with the Egyptians is done regularly and is defined as "very good" but the military don't forget for one moment that the only thing that separates Israel from the terror cells that have turned Sinai into their stronghold is a few low-level police officers, some not even armed.
The fact that things have heated up on the Egyptian border can also be seen in the fact that the forces now entrusted with preventing the next terror attack are no longer reservists. The IDF has now positioned elite infantry regiments equipped with armored personnel carriers.
One element not expected to change – at least until the border fence is completed, are the rules of engagement.
On the one hand, soldiers need to make sure that the infiltrators seeking to cross the border are unarmed yet on the other hand, they must avoid the nightly exchanges of fire between the Egyptians and smugglers, even if the incidents occur right in front of them.
"As the weeks go by and the border fence nears completion, the tensions keep rising. More and more incidents of infiltrators trying to smuggle people and drugs across the border are taking place," explained a senior officer in the division's southern regiment.
In many cases the infiltrators are hit by Egyptian police fire during their attempts to flee to the "promised land." The regiment finds itself sending out military choppers to evacuate infiltrators severely wounded in the fire exchanges at least three times on an average week.
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