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Report: Israel approves Egypt troop influx in Sinai

Aug. 26, 2011 12:25 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2011 10:26 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the deployment of thousands of extra Egyptian troops in the Sinai region, British weekly The Economist reported Friday.

The number of soldiers in the peninsula region bordering Israel is limited by the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

The report said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the move, intended to prevent attacks from the territory on Israel and its interests.

Egypt is permitted to move helicopters and armored vehicles into the Sinai, but tanks remain restricted to the lone battalion already stationed there under the terms of the peace accord.

On August 18, unknown militants launched a series of attacks on vehicles in southern Israel, killing eight Israelis. Israeli forces pursued the attackers over the border into Egypt, killing five Egyptian soldiers and sparking a diplomatic crisis.

Israeli officials pinned the attacks on Gaza militants using the Sinai as passage, and launched air strikes that killed 19 Palestinians.

In the weeks prior to the attacks, Egyptian forces had launched a large-scale operation dubbed "Operation Eagle" to track down Islamic extremists it blamed for a series of attacks on gas pipelines delivering to Israel. That operation also received approval for extra troop deployment from Israel.

On Wednesday, Israel's army chief Benny Gantz ordered increased measures along the border with Egypt due to intelligence about new attacks being planned, according to a report in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Armed groups are planning attacks similar to the ones last Thursday, the report said.
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