Egyptian warplanes are patrolling the Sinai without Israeli consent, despite a 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt’s military presence in the peninsula, Egypt’s air force chief said on Thursday.
Parts of the Sinai have been off-limits to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty by which Israel agreed to end its occupation but in recent months the army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.
“Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land,” said General Reda Hafiz in comments carried by the official MENA news agency.
“Egyptian planes conduct patrols to secure all Egypt’s borders, including the eastern border,” he said.
Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth, meanwhile, criticized the statements by General Hafiz and described them as “violations to the peace treaty” between the two countries.
Israeli officials said in August that their government had approved an increase in Egyptian troop numbers in the Sinai after a series of deadly attacks in Israel were blamed on militants operating out of the territory.
The attacks on Aug. 18 came as the military led an operation against suspected Islamist militants implicated in a series of attacks on police stations in the Sinai and on a pipeline that exports gas to Israel.
General Hafiz, meanwhile, said that Egypt would not be affected by a halt of the U.S. aid. “Egypt will get all its requirements from other countries. The armed forces will take the needed procedures so that a halt in the U.S. aid does not affect us negatively,” he said.