Israeli journalist and foreign affairs analyst Ehud Yaari has revealed that Israel is encouraging the Egyptian army to employ F-16 fighter jets in the Sinai in its fight against terrorism, in line with what is expected of them to protect shared Egyptian-Israeli interests.
In a speech to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council on 23 February 2014, Yaari described how cooperation between Israel and the Egyptian armed forces and intelligence services today is “unprecedented in scope, intensity and if I may say so, intimacy,” adding that the security cooperation is “the best ever. It never reached this point under President Mubarak, for example, nor under President Sadat.”
Yaari disclosed a private understanding between Egypt and Israel that is allowing Egypt to send troops into the prohibited areas of the Sinai where Egyptian troops are normally prevented from entering according to the 1978 Camp David Accords brokered by the US.
He explained that the Egyptian troops are in the Sinai to confront “terrorism” and these efforts have successfully isolated Hamas in the Gaza Strip by demolishing all the smuggling tunnels. But Yaari said the Egyptians still need to do more, and Israel is now waiting for the Egyptian army to deploy forces around Eilat, or Umm Al-Rashrash, on the Egyptian side of the border “to prevent [the] further firing of missiles on Eilat.”
“We are expecting, encouraging Egyptians as far as we can to move before the spring…to move against the main safe havens of the terrorists in a place called Halal Mountain in central Sinai…and in another place called Wadi Amr, which is very close to the Israeli border,” he told the audience.
“In Jabal Halal for example…we estimate about 3000 armed terrorists. That’s a major operation. I know something about the Egyptian army, and I think that they will go with a lot of fire. They also have Apache helicopters allowed in the Sinai. If defeated they will have F-16s allowed for aerial bombing, because we need to take care of it,” Yaari added.
He concluded by saying that the old threat to Israel no longer exists, because there are no more Arab armies to confront Israel militarily.
The video of his speech has been widely shared by activists on social media.