Conflicting Signals Indicate a More Dangerous Egypt

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- In the less than two months since Egypt's new Islamist president has been in office, there's been a mixed bag of information coming from Cairo.

Media reports that Egypt deployed anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles near the border without Israel's permission had not gone unnoticed.

"We are talking about missiles -- anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles -- that the Egyptian Army has introduced into Sinai, according to reports, in violation of the peace treaty between the two states," said Voice of Israel Arab Affair's analyst Eran Singer.

On Tuesday, the Israeli daily Maariv reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message to Egypt, communicated through the White House, that Israel would not tolerate further deployment of tanks and other military equipment to the Sinai in contravention of the 1979 peace treaty.

Issuing the ultimatum through the White House was meant to convey that Egypt could jeopardize U.S. military aide by doing so.

Israel's warning came after an Egyptian security source quoted by Reuters said Egypt's new defense minister, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, would "supervise" final plans to deploy rocket launchers and aircraft to the Sinai to "strike the terrorist elements."

Israel had gone along with Egypt's deployment of additional troops and even helicopter gunships in the Sinai following the Aug. 5 terror attack on an Egyptian military base. In that attack, jihadists shot dead 16 troops breaking the Ramadan fast, followed by a failed suicide bombing attempt at Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman told CBN News at that time the dialogue between the Israeli and Egyptian armies was "closely coordinated."

But a further buildup of military equipment in the northern Sinai without Israel's approval is considered unacceptable.

Meanwhile, Egypt revealed a plan it hopes may help resolve security concerns posed by Sinai-based jihadists.

Agriculture Minister Salah Abdul Momen announced his ministry's five-year plan to turn a million acres of arid desert in central Sinai into agricultural land. The plan also envisions settling a million Egyptians there, the Times of Israel quoted a Sunday report posted on Egypt's Al-Ahram website.

That's a good plan, but other news from Egypt is far less positive, especially for the country's Coptic Christians.

In a recent blog, Raymond Ibrahim posted a report translated by Coptic Solidarity, saying jihadists have been emboldened under the new Islamist government.

The report cites fliers recently distributed by Islamist groups promising to reward any Muslim who kills a Christian Copt.

According to the report, jihadists no longer feel constrained to use "cryptic language" in their rallying call against the Copts as they did during ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Instead, they provide specifics for "those interested" of where and when to meet with like-minded people.

This is "a testimony [as] to how safe the jihadi organizations of today's Egypt feel under the new president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi," the report states.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.