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Egypt says planes patrolling Sinai without Israel okay

Egypt's air force chief, General Reda Hafiz, says Egyptian warplanes are patrolling Sinai, claiming that Egypt 'does not need permission' to increase forces in its territory, despite the terms of the 1979 treaty with Israel

AFP , Thursday 13 Oct 2011
Egyptian military plane

Egyptian warplanes are patrolling the Sinai without Israeli consent, despite a 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt's military presence in the peninsula, Egypt's air force chief said on Thursday.

Parts of the Sinai have been off-limits to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty by which Israel agreed to end its occupation but in recent months the army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.

"Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land," said General Reda Hafiz in comments carried by the official MENA news agency.

"Egyptian planes conduct patrols to secure all Egypt's borders, including the eastern border," he said.

Israeli officials said in August that their government had approved an increase in Egyptian troop numbers in the Sinai after a series of deadly attacks in Israel were blamed on militants operating out of the territory.

The attacks on August 18 came as the military led an operation against suspected Islamist militants implicated in a series of attacks on police stations in the Sinai and on a pipeline that exports gas to Israel.

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