An Egyptian Bedouin rides his camel in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt
PM says Hamas and international terror groups are strengthening presence in Egypt and that the country's military government is having trouble 'realizing its sovereignty' in Sinai.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Egypt's new military government was having a "hard time" controlling the rise of international terror organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.
"Egypt is having a hard time realizing its sovereignty in Sinai," Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "International terror organizations are stirring in Sinai and their presence is increasing due to Sinai's connection to Gaza."
Netanyahu also warned that Hamas is getting stronger and that Israel is concerned for its future in the region, in particular with its peace partners Egypt and Jordan.
"Hamas is strengthening in Egypt," Netanyahu said. "It transferred more of its activities to Egypt and less to Syria due to the turmoil there. The Muslim Brotherhood is also not an insignificant player in Egypt."
The prime minister noted that Israel must act responsibly in light of the Arab world turmoil, saying that even though Israel supports the hope for democracy, it is unclear when and if this will happen.
Meanwhile on Monday, Egyptian security forces were pursuing 400 al-Qaida members who have been located in Sinai, said a senior Egyptian security source on Sunday.
According to a report on Egypt's Al-Hayat television channel, the operatives were planning terrorist attacks in Egypt and in Sinai.
The source said the al-Qaida members include Bedouins, Palestinians and foreign Arab nationals. They reportedly attacked a number of security stations in the past in the El Arish area.
Last January, Egypt's interior minister said al-Qaida is trying to establish terror cells in the Gaza Strip. His remarks came as Egyptian security forces had arrested 19 suspected al-Qaida militants, who were suspected of planning suicide bombings at holy sites throughout the country.