Officials said Egypt has cited increasing attacks by Bedouins and
Palestinian fighters in eastern and central Sinai. They said Cairo has
assessed that Al Qaida-aligned militias in the Gaza Strip were exploiting
the current security vacuum to target strategic facilities in Sinai,
including the natural gas terminal that supplies Israel and Jordan.
In January, Israel agreed to the deployment of two Egyptian Army
battalions in Sinai. Officials said the regime of Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak explained the request by saying that the troops would protect
Western tourists in the southern Sinai port of Sharm el-Sheikh, Middle East Newsline reported.
Under the 1979 peace treaty, Egypt agreed to demilitarize most of the
Sinai. Over the last decade, officials said, Egypt has relayed numerous
requests to deploy military and security forces in central and eastern
"We do not want it to seem as if the peace treaty is meaningless,
particularly at a time when there could be a regime change in Egypt, which
could renounce the treaty altogether," a senior military source told the