This week’s attacks on the Egypt-Israel border has renewed concerns on the security of the Sinai Peninsula, putting into question the effectiveness of the peace treaty between the two countries that was established over 3 decades ago.
Last night, an Islamist militant group under the name “Shura Council of the Mujahideen of Jerusalem,” released a clip, claiming responsibility for the border ambush which killed an Israeli construction worker.
The incident was retaliated by Israel, as rocket missiles were fired into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and it was reported that Israeli tanks were deployed on the border, a breach of the peace treaty that calls for the ban of any helicopters, tanks, and troops to exchange fire at the buffer zone between Egypt and Israel.
Mahmoud Khalaf, a retired general who is currently an advisor at the National Center for Middle Eastern Studies, believes that this incident does not threaten the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and disregarded such agreement breach. “All Egyptians respect the treaty and will continue to do so,” he said.
According to other analysts, Israel’s deployment of tanks is in reciprocation to the placement of Egyptian troops at the buffer zone earlier in the year.
Such mutual enforcement of security measures indicate the clandestine nature in dealing with an increasing vulnerability of the Sinai area succumbing to infiltration by radical militants and other armed terrorist factions, and Monday’s incident proves to be the most recent example.
Moreover, the current political situation in Egypt doesn’t present an ideal opportunity in bringing forth evidence that there is military coordination between the two countries. Egypt is in the midst of rearranging its security situation which was shaken by the January 25th revolution which saw nationwide crackdowns on protesters demanding the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, and subsequent transfer of power to the military council, leaving many to question the fate of the country’s political infrastructure and its impact on neighboring relations.
Maer Cohen, an Israeli political analyst said the security situation in Sinai affects both Egypt and Israel equally. “There should be a mutual understanding in dealing with terrorism in the area.”
The 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace treaty was agreed to by both parties following the 1978 Camp David accords, which saw mutual recognition and termination of the Arab-Israel war in 1948. The treaty’s priority was the demilitarization of the Sinai, with Israeli troops withdrawing from the area after its occupation during the Six-Day war in 1967. It also aimed to normalize ties between Israel and Egypt, including the resumption of the latter’s exportation of crude oil to its neighbor.