Israeli intelligence agencies have warned that renewed Israeli military operations in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip would likely generate a severe response from the Egyptian authorities, Israeli broadcast news service reported on Monday.
The forecast comes within the context of the latest annual intelligence assessment by Israel's foreign ministry, which also cautioned that the continuation of the stalled "peace process" with the Palestinian Authority (PA) could lead to increased militancy on the part of the Palestinian people.
On Monday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the PA remained opposed for the most part to armed confrontation with the self-proclaimed Jewish state. If the current impasse in peace talks continued, however, the paper, too, warned of an increasing likelihood of Palestinian militancy.
In August of last year, six Egyptian border policemen were killed by Israeli helicopter gunships on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Israel border in the Sinai Peninsula. Tel Aviv attempted to justify the action at the time by claiming that the gunships had been chasing Palestinian militants who had escaped into Egyptian territory after killing two Israeli soldiers in the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
The incident sorely strained relations between the two countries, with thousands of Egyptian protesters staging angry days-long demonstrations outside Israel's embassy in Cairo, which eventually led to the Israeli ambassador's temporary departure from Egypt.
Israel's three-week-long "Cast Lead" assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1400 – mostly civilian – Palestinians, generated enormous popular anger and anti-Israel sentiment throughout the Arab and Muslim world.