Egypt is ready to use its air force and tanks in the Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war to crush Islamist gunmen active on the Israeli border, security officials said. The plans to intensify the operation are being considered by the new Defense Minister, General Abdel Fattah al Sissi, who made Monday his first inspection visit to the Sinai since the deadly raid on 5 August.
On that day, suspected Islamist militants killed 16 Egyptian border guards during a surprise attack on a border post in the Sinai. The Peninsula, a vast desert on the border of Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip, is partially demilitarized since the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.
“General Al Sissi will oversee the final plans to hit the terrorists using aircraft and mobile rocket launchers for the first time since the beginning of the operation, “said an Egyptian security source. According to another security source, the army plans to attack Al Halal Mount in the center of the peninsula, including using tanks to flush out militants who are entrenched. New Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has vowed to restore order and security in the northern Sinai.
Following the August 5 raid, Egypt launched a joint operation involving military and police which helped flush caches, to stop activists and seize weapons. Some sources in Egypt claim that the Israeli authorities, who say they are in regular contact with Cairo, encouraged the operation against the perpetrators of the attack on August 5.