Israel should be excluded from security cooperation with Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula, Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech marking Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Haniyeh said that Sinai security should be the province of joint Egyptian and Hamas cooperation, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.
“I repeat our reiteration that we are ready [for] security coordination with Egypt to protect security and mutual interests as well as borders between the two countries,” he reportedly said, adding that Gaza would remain a “source of calm” for Egypt.
Under the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Egypt is limited in the number and type of military units stationed in Sinai, and security for the region requires coordination with Israeli security forces, especially in the areas close to the Israeli border. These is also a small force of UN peacekeepers stationed in the peninsula.
Since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, Sinai has seen a sharp increase in general lawlessness, including multiple bombings of the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline, kidnappings, and terrorist incidents.
Most recently, on August 5 a group of well-organized gunmen attacked Egyptian troops, killing 16, and then commandeered two military vehicles and smashed across the border into Israel before being dispached by the Israeli Air Force.
In a response coordinated with Israel, Egypt launched a massive operation in Sinai, bringing in troops, armored vehicles and for the first time since the 1979 treaty with Israel, jet fighters.
In an interview with CNN last week, an Egyptian security official said that Yemeni jihadists had created a training camp in the rugged mountains of northern Sinai.