Israel ramps up military and intelligence efforts along Egyptian border

Israel has beefed up its military presence and intelligence activity along the border with Egypt in anticipation of terrorist attacks, according to Chief of Israeli General Staff Benny Gantz.

During a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, Gantz said the Egyptian border has become a source of terrorist attacks on Israel. Gantz added that 30 Israeli contractors and 400 workers have built a 70-km barrier along the border and are working on the remaining 240km.

Israeli lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said during the meeting that Israel should be prepared for a military confrontation with Egypt, citing recent developments in Sinai.

Ben-Eliezer also predicted the Muslim Brotherhood would take at least 30 percent of seats in Egypt’s next parliament.

“Today it is clear that for the first time in history the Muslim Brotherhood will win at least a third [of the seats]. Islamization is taking the place of nationalism," he said.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Ben-Eliezer warning that Israel would eventually face confrontation with Egypt given its recent developments.

The Marker, another Israeli newspaper, reported that Egypt’s political scene is shifting to “extremist Islam.”

The former head of the Israeli Affairs Department within Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, Hassan Essa, said Israel has been fearful that Islamists would take over Egypt since the revolution.

After decades of repression under President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Islamist groups have become increasingly visible on the political scene since Mubarak stepped down. Mubarak protected the unpopular 1979 peace treaty with Israel for years, and many have speculated that Egyptian-Israeli relations would change under the country’s next leaders.

Relations deteriorated between Cairo and Tel Aviv when Israeli planes killed six Egyptian security officers during an August border raid. Israel said they were killed accidentally during a campaign targeting terrorists who had attacked a bus in Eilat. The incident sparked public outcry in Egypt that culminated in angry protesters storming the Israeli Embassy in September.

The Israeli ambassador left Cairo following the attack, which also provoked renewed calls to cancel the peace treaty.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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