Troop movement renews Sinai reoccupation buzz
Oil, natural gas fields ripe for takeover that also would undermine terror attacks
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WASHINGTON – The reported call-up by the Israeli Defense Forces of six battalions of reservists to be assigned mostly along the 150-mile border with Egypt facing the Sinai Peninsula has renewed buzz that Israel is planning to reoccupy the region, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The move underscores not only concern by Tel Aviv of heightened terrorist attacks launched from the deserts there, but also the possibility of a remedy, at least temporarily, to the growing energy crisis that has emerged following Egypt’s cancellation of the contract that brought natural gas into Israel.
The gas, which met some 40 percent of Israel’s energy requirements, flowed through a pipeline that has been sabotaged some 14 times since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak last year.
The interim governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, then decided to pull back Egyptian troops from that frontier, and Israelis say now it is showing increased al-Qaida and Bedouin tribe violence.
In addition, Israeli officials say that Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip are using the Sinai to launch attacks into Israel.
In announcing the call-up of six battalions of reserves, the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, reportedly authorized the IDF to mobilize another 16 reserve battalions, if needed. Some of the battalions already called up also will be positioned along the border with Syria, addressing the increasing unrest there.
Sources say a number of developments are triggering the call-up, which include implementing a 2008 Reserve Duty Law in which combat soldiers are called for active reserve duty once every three years.
While the immediate reason given for the call-up was due to tensions between Israel and Egypt and continued unrest in Syria, another reason for the troop positioning could be to deal with any attack that could occur from Syria, Lebanon and the Sinai should the Israeli government decide to launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, along with the Hamas from the Gaza Strip, have vowed to come to Iran’s assistance in the event its nuclear facilities are attacked.
The Sinai poses a particularly vexing problem for the Israelis, since law enforcement in that region had been left up to the Egyptians since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Israel had been occupying the Sinai since the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982.
However, with the Egyptian government itself now in chaos, the Egyptians have not maintained order, allowing terror threats to surge.
Last August, for example, eight Israelis were killed and 25 were wounded. There remains a number of Israelis who have settled in the Sinai and whose lives now may be threatened.
This development has posed an increasingly serious security issue for Israel, which now must position the troops along the border with the Sinai in an effort to minimize attacks on Israel itself.
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