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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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Egyptian Army Claiming Success in the Sinai, But Most Terrorists Are Still Roaming Free

Egyptian soldiers preventing Palestinians from coming close to the iron gate of a Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza strip.

Egyptian soldiers preventing Palestinians from coming close to the iron gate of a Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza strip.
Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90

“From the military point of view, the operation is not supposed to branch out in all directions. It must be carried out, but it must remain surgical in nature,” Mosallam exlained.

As part of Operation Eagle, the army has brought in hardware that is not permitted under the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. When the Israelis protested, army officials got in touch with them, and arrangements were made to satisfy both sides.

“There has been an implicit agreement since the beginning [between Egypt and Israel]… When [Israeli] protests mounted, defense ministers Al-Sisi and Barak had a discussion during which they agreed on the target of the operation and that it won’t threaten Israel in any way,” a military source told Al Ahram.

Reacting to criticism that the army was actually failing in carrying out its mission, the same source said that Operation Eagle had achieved several “notable successes.”

“We have to look at the accomplishments on the ground, at the fact that the tunnels were demolished and the arms dealers, the splinter groups, and the terrorist hotspots were held at bay. We now have lists and maps of everything, from houses that were used as fronts to run underground tunnels to depots used for arms, drugs and human trafficking,” the source said.

Said Okasha, an analyst with Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that what the Egyptian army is doing now is not worse than what Israel has done in the past.

“Following the January 25 Revolution, reports spoke of Israel infiltrating Zone D. Israeli forces dealt with Zone D as a security belt and set up rapid-deployment units there, helped by the fact that there was little or no Egyptian security there at the time. Perhaps this was justifiable then, but not anymore,” Okasha remarked.

An Egyptian military source denied any significant breaches by Israel of Egypt’s borders. Apart from a flight by a pilotless plane, Israel has not infiltrated Zone D in recent weeks, he said. The source added that Egyptians and Israelis were “in constant touch” to ensure such incidents will not be repeated.

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