Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the new military government in Egypt is failing to limit the rise of international terror organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.
Citing the recent attacks on Egyptian pipelines carrying gas to Israel, Netanyahu said, "Egypt is having a hard time realizing its sovereignty in Sinai. International terror organizations are stirring in Sinai and their presence is increasing due to Sinai's connection to Gaza."
Netanyahu further cautioned that Hamas has moved some of its activities to Egypt, enabling the group to grow stronger and threatening Israel's future in the region, particularly with its peace partners Egypt and Jordan. Netanyahu also added that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is "not insignificant" and should not be overlooked.
Commenting on the turmoil in the Arab world, Netanyahu said that while Israel supports democracy, its future in the Arab countries remains uncertain, and thus Israel must act responsibly.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces are pursuing 400 al-Qaida operatives who have been spotted in the Sinai, according to a senior Egyptian security source. These operatives, comprised of Bedouins, Palestinians, and foreign Arab nationals, allegedly attacked several security stations in the past in Sinai city of El Arish. According to a report on Egypt's Al-Hayat television channel, the al-Qaida members are now planning additional terrorist attacks in Egypt and in Sinai.
North Sinai Governor Abdel Wahab Mabrouk denied the reports, saying they were mere rumors and denying any security officials made such comments to Al-Hayat.
Last January, following the arrest of 19 suspected al-Qaida militants by Egyptian security forces, Egypt's interior minister warned that al-Qaida was seeking to form terror cells in the Gaza Strip. The arrested operatives were suspected of planning suicide bombings at holy sites throughout Egypt.