Egypt said Monday it was boosting troop numbers around Rafah in restive Sinai in the battle against Islamic State group militants, after striking a coordination deal with neighboring Israel.
No details of how many extra soldiers would be sent, but it is the first agreed increase in troops since 2018.
“The joint military committee succeeded in amending the security agreement, in coordination with the Israeli side, to increase the number of (Egyptian) border guard forces” in Rafah, the army’s spokesperson said in a statement.
Israel’s army said they would “continue working together to ensure security along our border.” Egypt’s Rafah crossing is the only passage to the Palestinian Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel.
The deployment comes amid “efforts to preserve Egyptian national security,” Egypt’s statement added.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979 after decades of enmity and conflict. The treaty requires each side to agree to any change of troop numbers along the border region.
Militants in Egypt’s Sinai have multiplied their attacks since the army’s 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Authorities have been since February 2018 conducting a nationwide operation against Islamist militants, mainly focused on North Sinai and the country’s Western Desert.
Around 1,073 suspected militants and dozens of security personnel have been killed since the start of operations, according to official figures.
In a rare public admission of close security cooperation with the Israelis, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told CBS in 2019 that “the air force sometimes needs to cross to the Israeli side” adding that “that’s why we have a wide range of coordination with the Israelis.”
In September, Sisi met with Israeli Prime Minister Nafatali Bennett in the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, the first visit in over a decade by an Israeli head of government.
Cairo played a key role in negotiating a ceasefire in May between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas to end 11 days of fighting.