Israel 'must support Egypt's army'
19 August 2013, 15:43
Jerusalem - Israel and the West must support Egypt's army,
an Israeli official said Monday, after 24 Egyptian policemen were killed in an
attack in the Sinai bordering the Jewish state.
The unnamed official's comments in an Israeli daily came a
day after a New York Times report that Israel would press Western powers to
support the military in unrest-swept Egypt.
By "not taking things away from them [the army], not
harming or threatening them", the US and EU could help Egypt "get
back on track", the Jerusalem Post quoted the official as saying.
"The name of the game right now is not democracy,"
"The name of the game is that there needs to be a
functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then (you can) talk about
restarting the democratic process there."
Egypt's unrest has heightened Israeli concern, especially
due to Islamist violence in the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula, which
borders both the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab state
to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state, coordinate closely on military
activity in the Sinai.
Militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at two buses in
the Sinai early on Monday killing 24 Egyptian policemen.
It was the deadliest attack of its kind in years and raises
fears of a return to the wave of deadly violence linked to Islamist groups that
swept Egypt in the 1990s.
On 13 August, Islamist militants fired a rocket from the
Sinai at Israel's Red Sea town of Eilat, claiming it was retaliation for an
alleged Israeli drone strike on jihadists in the Sinai.
The Islamists accused the Egyptian army of co-ordinating the
attack with Israel and threatened more strikes against the Jewish state.
US President Barack Obama last week cancelled joint military
exercises following hundreds of deaths in a crackdown on supporters of ousted
Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
But Washington has not suspended military aid to Egypt, a
key Middle East ally.
The administration has refused to call Morsi's overthrow a
"coup", which would legally require it to cut off aid, saying it
hoped to steer the country towards a democratic transition.
Thirty-six Islamist prisoners were killed on Sunday during
an attempted jailbreak in Egypt, police said, bringing to almost 800 the death
toll in five days.
The bloodshed in Egypt has drawn widespread international
condemnation, with senior European Union diplomats holding emergency talks on
Monday to discuss future EU action.
Egyptian police and the military launched their crackdown
last Wednesday with an operation to clear pro-Morsi demonstrators from protest
camps in Cairo.