JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Egypt has moved about 800 troops into the Sinai peninsula with Israel’s consent to beef up security as protests aimed at toppling President Hosni Mubarak spread across Egypt, Israeli officials said on Monday.
Permission was granted in response to a request from Cairo, and the forces have been deployed around the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, one official said. Two other officials confirmed that Israel had granted such a request.
The vast wedge of desert between Israel and Egypt is largely demilitarized under the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.
Israel Radio said “Israel is looking the other way” as Egypt positions forces in the Sinai “to try to make sure the situation doesn’t get out of hand” there.
Israel last permitted Egypt to station armed forces in the Sinai after it pulled its own troops out of Gaza in 2005, and Egypt posted border guards on its side of the Gaza border to prevent Palestinian militants from smuggling weapons.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel, in 1979. Under the terms of the treaty, Israel withdrew forces from the Sinai which it had captured in the 1967 Middle East war. It completed the pullout in 1982.
Reporting by Dan Williams; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Janet Lawrence