The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed that the Israeli army has deployed tanks on the border with Egypt following clashes near the Kadesh Barnea settlement. The move breaches the terms of the Camp David peace treaty between the two states, under which the border should be a demilitarised zone on both sides. However, Haaretz claims that the armoured vehicles were removed after completing a sweep of the area.
According to the Hebrew Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israel is concerned about the escalation of tension on the border with Egypt and the loss of security in the Sinai Peninsula. It is said that Israel is now speeding up the construction of a wall that will cover the entire length of the border with Egypt.
The newspaper quoted the Head of Ramat Negev Regional Council as saying that Israeli towns in southern Israel are now completing their preparations to protect the population and keep them secure by building electronic fences on the outskirts of population centres. Roads are also being improved in case of emergency.
Under the headline "Sinai is similar to Afghanistan", Yedioth Ahronoth said that yesterday's incident and the clashes on the border with Egypt raise serious concerns among the Israeli authorities which are exacerbated by what the newspaper calls "the current political instability" in Egypt, and the impact that this may have on Israel's security.
Political sources said that the latest incident on the border is a dangerous escalation and raises questions about the extent of control that the Egyptian state can exercise on Sinai, and how firm and determined Egypt's next president will. This will have an impact on the future and nature of relations between Egypt and Israel. "If the Sinai Peninsula develops into an Afghanistan-type scenario," said the anonymous sources, "we fear that the whole thing will explode in our faces."
The Israeli military, meanwhile, is preparing for all possibilities, including the appearance of Al-Qaeda "as well as the fighters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are benefiting from the lack of firm leadership in Cairo".