OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The deployment of armors in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula as part of a military operation against militants is sparking deep worries in Israel, which sees the move as a violation of a peace treaty with the heavyweight Arab country.
"Israel is bothered by the entry of armored vehicles in Sinai without coordination," an Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Egypt has sent tanks into Sinai as part of a military operation against militants in the desert peninsula.
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Egyptian television footage showed Egypt's defense minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Sinai addressing troops with tanks and heavy equipment behind them.
Other images from his visit broadcast by Egypt's private ON TV showed a row of six tanks and five armored personnel carriers.
Egyptian security sources also said this week they were preparing to deploy aircraft and tanks in Sinai as part of militants blamed for killing 16 border guards earlier this month.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday called for Israel to pile pressures on Egypt over its military deployments in Sinai."We have to be insistent with the Egyptians and be strict about crossing every last 't,' because otherwise we will be on a slippery slope with regards to everything related to the peace agreement," Lieberman told a closed meeting with ambassadors.Israel and Egypt signed a US-sponsored peace treaty in 1979, under which Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which was occupied in the 1967 war.
The Camp David deal sets strict limits on military deployment in the Sinai.
Under the accord, Egypt was only allowed to have lightly armed policemen in the zone along the border with Israel.
Limited numbers of tanks were permitted only in a zone on the far western side of the peninsula, within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the Suez Canal.
Last year, Israel agreed to exceptions to the treaty, allowing Egypt's military to deploy troops with heavier weaponry into the most sensitive zone of eastern Sinai.
Israel says it wants to have a say over what weaponry is deployed in Sinai Peninsula.
"There is no precedent for armored vehicles being deployed in Sinai and certainly not without any coordination," the Israeli official said.
The Israeli government had allowed Egypt to use attack helicopters in Sinai following the assault on border guards.
But Israeli media say Israel was worried coordination with Egypt may suffer after a shakeup this month of Egypt's military, including President Mohamed Morsi's dismissals of officials Israel had long been in contact with.
In Cairo, Yasser Ali, a spokesman for Mursi, told Reuters that security measures in Sinai were "crucial" to Egypt's security.
"Security Sinai is among Egypt's national security priorities, and nothing can stand in front of this," he said.
An Egyptian military source told Reuters the Sinai security sweep was in keeping with agreements reached with Israel a year ago after eight Israelis died in a cross-border attack.
"We don't need to issue a daily report to Israel on the operation as it is a matter of sovereignty and national security," the source said.
Since the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in a popular revolt last year, Israel has been worried with the potential scenarios that could take place in Egypt.The change of power in Egypt might also alter Israel's entire strategic outlook, given the fact that thanks to the peace treaty, the Israeli military kept minimal presence on its southern border, freeing it up for actions to the east and north.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net