Egyptian armed forces have killed 32 “criminal elements” in the wake of the August 5 Gaza-Egypt-Isra
Ali added that Egypt was consulting with Israel on its security policies in the Sinai in line with its treaty obligations.
“There is coordination over the presence of the armed forces in the Sinai territories,” he said. “I think that there is the understanding that the military operation in Sinai is in the interest of all.”
An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, said there are ongoing communications between the two sides.
Ali referred to the first portion of the Egypt’s military campaign in Sinai as “very successful,” and said the campaign would continue until all the army’s goals were achieved.
The spokesman also indicated that the army has operated within the framework of the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement. He said Egypt has acted “alone” and according to “all international agreements” in its pursuit of terror operatives in the peninsula. The treaty, under which Israel withdrew from the Sinai, restricts Egypt’s military deployment in the peninsula, but provides mechanisms for expanded use of forces if coordinated with Israel.
The Egyptian crackdown began after Sinai-based terror cells attacked an Egyptian base near the border on August 6, gunned down the guards as they were eating a meal to break the Ramadan fast, and then smashed across the border into Israel in a stolen Egyptian army armored vehicle before being thwarted by the Israel air force and ground forces.
Earlier Saturday, gunmen staged another attack on Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai, near the border with Gaza, AFP reported, citing Egyptian security officials. Two vehicles filled with gunmen approached the Sheikh Zwayyid police station early in the morning, and exchanged fire with the officers. There were no reported injuries.
Cairo officials were said earlier this week to have identified seven of the terrorists who were behind the August attack. An Israel Radio report quoted Egyptian Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal El-Din as telling government paper Al-Akhbar that one of the suspects was an Egyptian citizen who belonged to a sleeper cell of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Earlier reports indicated that Egypt suspects four Gaza-based terrorists played a role in the attack.
Last Saturday, Egypt said it had arrested a high-level Islamist militant in the Sinai Peninsula, and vowed to keep up military operations to “cleanse” the desert region.
Yifa Yaakov and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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