Charles Nwoke, Rafah, Egypt
Egyptian Army on Monday, said it was boosting its military forces around Rafah in obstreperous Sinai in the war against Islamic State terrorist group, after signing a coordination deal with neighboring Israeli government.
The number of extra soldiers that would be sent is yet to be known, but this pact is the first ever reached to increase military presence since 2018.
According to the Egyptian Army spokesman in Rafah, “The joint military committee succeeded in amending the security agreement, in coordination with the Israeli side, to increase the number of (Egyptian) border guard forces.”
Israeli Army said they would “continue working together to ensure security along our border.”
Egypt’s Rafah crossing is the only route to the Palestinian Gaza Strip not man by Israel.
The statement added that deployment comes amid efforts to preserve Egyptian national security.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with the Jewish state in 1979 after decades of enmity and crisis. The deal requires each side to agree to any change of military troop numbers along the boundary between the both nations.
Islamic extremists in Egypt’s Sinai have extremely increased their attacks since the military coup of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
Military forces have since February 2018 been carrying out a nationwide operation against Islamic terrorists, mainly focused on North Sinai and the Western Desert of the country.
According to military authorities, about 1,073 suspected militants and dozens of security agents have been killed since the beginning of operations.
In what seems to be public admission of close security cooperation with the Israelis, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told CBS in 2019 that “the air force sometimes needs to cross to the Israeli side” adding that “that’s why we have a wide range of coordination with the Israelis.”
Al-Sisi met with Israeli Prime Minister Nafatali Bennett in the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, the first visit by an Israeli head of government in more than ten years.
Cairo contributed immensely in negotiating a ceasefire deal in May between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas to end 11 days of pogrom.