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IDF generals travel to Sinai for rare public meeting with Egyptian army

Israel signs off on larger deployment of Egyptian troops near Rafah; move comes as Cairo becomes increasingly open about ties with Jerusalem

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli and Egyptian officials meet in Sinai to discuss Egyptian troop deployments on the peninsula on November 7, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli and Egyptian officials meet in Sinai to discuss Egyptian troop deployments on the peninsula on November 7, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Top Israeli military officers spoke with their Egyptian counterparts in a rare public meeting in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the so-called Agreed Activities Mechanism, a provision of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which required Jerusalem to sign off on any reinforcements that Cairo wanted to deploy to the Sinai through a joint committee made up of senior IDF and Egyptian officers.

“During a meeting of the committee, an agreement was signed to formalize the deployment of guard troops in the area of Rafah to reinforce the Egyptian military’s security control over the area,” the IDF said, adding that the decision was approved by Israel’s civilian leadership.

The precise number of additional Egyptian troops that will be deployed to the Rafah area, which borders both Israel and the Gaza Strip, was not immediately disclosed.

Over the past decade, Israel has repeatedly acceded to Egyptian requests to send additional troops to the area as it has confronted an Islamic State terror group insurgency in the Sinai. In the past, however, the meetings have not been publicly disclosed, at Cairo’s request.

Israel has also reportedly taken an active part in Egypt’s war against Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula.

The IDF delegation sent to the Sinai on Sunday included the head of IDF Operations, Maj. Gen. Oded Basyuk; the head of the IDF’s Foreign Relations Division, Brig. Gen. Efi Dafrin; and Maj. Gen. Tal Kelman, who commands the IDF’s otherwise Iran-focused Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate.

The highly irregular public announcement of the meeting came as Egypt has engaged in increasingly open relations with Israel, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi hosting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sinai earlier this year.

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