CAIRO (AP) — Egypt and Israel said Monday they agreed on an increase in Egyptian border forces in a restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt has battled Islamic militants for years.
The Egyptian military said a joint military committee with Israel agreed to amend a security deal between the two countries, allowing Cairo to increase the number and capabilities of border guards in the town of Rafah.
The military was apparently referring to security arrangements linked to the peace treaty the neighboring countries signed in 1979. It said the new arrangements were part of the military’s efforts to secure the country’s northeastern borders.
Israel’s military said in a separate statement the amendment was signed during the committee’s meeting Sunday, allowing Egypt to increase its military presence in the area. Neither country's military gave additional details.
Egypt was the first Arab country to reach a peace agreement with Israel, but only after the two countries fought four wars between 1948 to 1973. The agreement put restrictions on Egypt's military presence in towns bordering Israel.
The announcement comes after years of coordination between Egypt and Israel to contain the common threat posed by militant groups operating in Sinai. The Israelis are believed to have granted every request by Egypt to bring additional forces into the region, as long as all operations were closely coordinated.
Egypt has battled militants in northern Sinai for years, but attacks against its military and police have expanded since the military removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his divisive rule.
Egypt’s military under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has managed in recent years to prevent large-scale attacks in Sinai and elsewhere in the country.