Monday, August 29, 2011

Israel intensifies security on border with Sinai, Gaza, say reports

CAIRO: Israel has intensified security measures along the southern border with the Sinai Peninsula and the blockaded Gaza Strip fearing a possible militant attack, Israeli papers reported Monday.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deployed on Monday morning extra military troops along the border in the wake of intelligence information that Palestinian militants were planning a large attack against Israel, Israel-based Jerusalem Post reported.

The IDF updated the Egyptian military about the decision, the report added.

According to another Israeli paper, Haaretz, an Israeli security source made it clear the IDF will hold the Palestinian Hamas faction responsible for any terrorist attack originating from the Gaza Strip.

Haaretz reported that there are indications that members of the Islamic Jihad currently in Sinai, and despite the recent ceasefire want to carry out a new attack.

An Israeli security official was also quoted by Haaretz as saying that the array of tunnels along the border allowed members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) to cross from Gaza to Sinai and carry out the recent attacks in Israel.

Egypt, however, has no right to deploy extra forces across the border with Israel as per the restrictions of the 1979 Peace Treaty.

Recent unconfirmed reports said the Egyptian side would seek to amend an article in the agreement about border security in order to allow Egypt to deploy more forces to secure the border.

Egypt can only deploy 750 troops in Zone C covering 220 kilometers along the Egyptian border with Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

No helicopters, heavy artillery or boats are allowed to be used inside this zone to protect the border which is believed to have led to the infiltration of militant groups from Gaza as well as arms trafficking.

Egypt and Israel have seen relations strain recently following the killing of five Egyptian policemen, including one officer, by Israeli forces in crossfire with militants on the border on Aug. 18. The incident was preceded by three attacks that killed eight a few hours earlier in Israel.

Israeli officials were quick to blame the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for the triple assault, criticizing Egypt for losing control over security in North and South Sinai.

Israel intensifies security on border with Sinai, Gaza, say reports