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As calls are being heard for the Israel Defense Forces to enter Sinai to combat rampant terror there, Cairo sent a clear message on Monday that it will not allow Israeli forces to enter the Egyptian peninsula.
“Egypt will cut off the hand of any aggressor, from within as well as without,” an unnamed senior official in Egypt’s Supreme Military Council said, according to Egyptian website “Masrawy.”
The official reportedly added that the Egyptian leadership was closely monitoring developments in Israel following a deadly clash Sept. 21 between Sinai terrorists and Israeli forces on the Sinai border. All three terrorists were killed in the clash, as was one Israeli soldier.
Egypt is “conducting itself wisely and calmly, and will not let anyone harm even one centimeter of Sinai soil,” the official was quoted as saying.
On Sunday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz remarked that even when Israel completely seals its border with Egypt, the threat of terror emanating from Sinai will not be eliminated.
The chief of staff visited the site of a border infiltration in which Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi was killed Sept. 21, speaking to the men and women posted there, who, killing the terrorists that tried to breach the border, had prevented a likely deadlier attack. “The Sinai border will continue to pose a challenge,” Gantz said at the site. “Tremendous efforts have been invested over the last two years into sealing the border, and it will be sealed, but even then the threat won’t disappear.”
Gantz voiced his appreciation for all the soldiers involved in the incident, saying that “we fighters protect our borders, and sometimes there are clashes. Anyone who chooses to be a fighter knows that this could happen. Netanel moved, made contact, fought and was killed—it could have been any one of you. I am sure that if Netanel was here with us, he would say that we have to go ahead with the mission.”
An initial investigation into the incident has revealed that the late Yahalomi managed to fire several shots at the terrorists before being killed, apparently killing one of them.
Lieberman: No changes to Egypt peace treaty
Speaking amid rumors that Egypt’s Islamist leaders are planning on re-examining the military appendix of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman flatly rejected any indication Israel would agree.
“There is no chance that Israel will agree to any kind of change” to the peace deal, Lieberman told Israel Radio. “The Egyptians shouldn’t try to delude themselves or delude others and they should not rely on this demand,” he said.
The changes that Lieberman is alluding to are the agreement to limit the amount of Egyptian troops and heavy weapons in the Sinai Peninsula under the treaty. Since the Egyptian Revolution last year, Islamic terrorists have increasingly taken advantage of the region’s lawlessness to launch attacks on Egyptian and Israeli targets, such as the one that transpired Sept. 21.
Mohamed Essmat Seif al-Dawla, a political advisor to Egypt’s president, said that Egypt has the right to defend all its territory. “The military appendix in the Camp David Accords is inconsistent with the Egyptian constitution, which stipulates that Egypt’s armed forces have the full right to defend the state's sovereignty,” he said.
Lieberman, however, said that what Sinai lacked was not more Egyptian troops, but rather a willingness on the part of the government to fight terrorists in the peninsula.
While Israel is alarmed by the increasing terrorist activity, it is also skeptical of the long-term motivations of the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian government.
Terrorists from an al-Qaida-inspired group killed an Israeli soldier and injured another in the Sinai Peninsula near the Israel-Egypt border at noon Sept. 21.
Salafi group: ‘Disciplinary attack against those who insulted’ Muhammad
On Saturday, an al-Qaida-inspired Salafi organization called Ansar Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 Sinai attack.
Ansar Jerusalem called their action a “disciplinary attack against those who insulted the beloved Prophet” Muhammad through the production of the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which has been linked to recent protests throughout the Arab world.
Three Ansar Jerusalem terrorists came to the border between Egypt and Israel south of Mount Sagi. In that area, the defensive fence being built by Israel is not yet complete. The terrorists came with explosive belts, assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that without Israel’s decision to build the security fence along its border with Sinai, the country “would be flooded with illegal labor infiltrators, and terror squads.”A larger attack than what occurred Sept. 21 “was prevented largely due to this decision [to build the security fence] and the action taken by IDF soldiers,” he said.