Photo: Meir Ohayon
Defense Minister Ya'alon
Photo: Meir Ohayon

Ya'alon tours Egypt border: 'We've strengthened our deployment'

During visit to Iron Dome battery in Eilat, defense minister says he hopes Egyptian army will 'overcome challenge of radical Islam in Sinai'

"Not a day goes by when we don't here a report about terror attacks in Sinai, and our concern is that the guns will be turned on us," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday during a tour of the Israeli-Egyptian border.


Ya'alon spoke on a visit to an "Iron Dome" missile defense system that was deployed last Friday in the southernmost town Eilat. He said that since Morsi's overthrow, Egypt had increased its efforts to curb terrorists who have exploited a security vacuum in the Sinai since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.


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"We can see much more effective activity of the Egyptian army and security forces there in the past few months and mainly in the past few weeks, after the change in government," Ya'alon said.


"We have indeed strengthened our deployment along the border, and we have deployed an Iron Dome battery here in Eilat as well, in case someone dares to fire at the city. We did it in order to protect the city's residents and make sure life in Eilat remains as normal as possible.


"I hope the Egyptian security establishment overcomes the challenge of radical Islam in Sinai," he said.


יעלון ואלוף פיקוד דרום סמי תורג'מן (צילום: מאיר אוחיון)

Southern Command chief Maj.-Gen.Turgeman (L) with Ya'alon during tour (Photo: Meir Ohayon)


Israeli officials said on Tuesday that the country has boosted its rocket defenses near its southern border with Egypt, to counter possible attacks from Islamist terrorists fighting security forces in Egypt's Sinai peninsula.


With Egyptian security forces pressing the terrorists, Israel was expecting trouble, one Israeli official said.


"The assessment in recent days is that given the Egyptian crackdown in Sinai, the terrorist elements there will try to demonstrate their survivability and defiance by shelling us," said the official, who asked not to be identified.


Violence in Sinai has surged since the army ousted elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, with terrorists killing at least 20 people in almost daily assaults in the area.


Ya'alon stressed that all the Egyptian forces that entered Sinai as part of the effort to quell terrorism in the region, did so with Israel's approval, in accordance with the military addendum (to the peace treaty). "We authorize (the entrance of Egyptian forces) because they are really used to fight terror. The process will probably be longer than we would have liked," he said.


A rocket fired from Sinai landed in Israel earlier this month and its remnants were found in hills north of Eilat, a Red Sea resort that abuts Egypt to the west and Jordan to the east.


The defense minister also addressed the European Union's decision to put Hezbollah's armed wing on its terror list. "Better late than never," he said, "Although from our standpoint there is no difference between (Hezbollah's) political and military wings. The order to activate terror is given by the political (wing). I hope the Europeans will eventually realize this as well."


AP contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 07.23.13, 16:56
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