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Israel: former MK warns of possible armed confrontation with Egypt

January 24, 2024 at 10:04 am

Egyptian flags in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

A former member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has warned of the growing military power of Egypt, stressing that Cairo still poses the greatest danger to Israel.

“The era of major wars has not ended yet,” Professor Aryeh Eldad told Israel’s Channel 7. He explained that Egypt poses a great danger to Israel, and the Egyptian army’s capabilities in the Sinai desert are “terrifying”. Israel must add to its annual risk assessment the option of war with Egypt, he added, due to the Egyptians’ “strength and behaviour”.

Eldad pointed out that although Israeli army officers have been taught that the era of major wars has ended; events on 7 October proved that Israelis must look at the enemy’s capabilities and not just its intentions. Hence, Egypt could pose a major threat to Israel.

“What I see in the field is the strength and behaviour of the Egyptians,” he said. “Years have passed, after the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt, in which we gave up all of Sinai. The peace agreement stipulated that the only guarantees in it were to reduce the forces in Sinai, even though ‘The Sinai desert was supposed to be demilitarised’. Over the years, this agreement has completely eroded and the opposite happened.”

He explained that it is in Egypt’s interest to be strong in Sinai, because of ISIS/Daesh, but when Tel Aviv allowed the Egyptians to increase the number of their forces there temporarily, the Egyptian army never returned those troops to the other side of the Suez Canal. In this they were in fact violating the agreement, by retaining much larger forces than they had been allowed.

Asked whether an attack from Egypt is the dangerous scenario amid the war with Hamas, Prof. Eldad said that this is the least worrying part. However, he warned that since signing the peace agreement with Israel, Egypt has been preparing its army for the next war, by constructing highways in Sinai and building underground facilities where long-range missiles are stored along with huge fuel reserves. The missiles, he claimed, only target Israel. “You do not prepare for a confrontation with Iran by putting fuel in Sinai.”

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