By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES
Egypt is preparing to use aircraft and tanks in Sinai as part of its offensive against militants in the border area, security sources told Reuters on Monday, while the Israeli army announced it deployed an Iron Dome air defense system near the Egyptian border.
Egypt’s plans to step up the offensive will include using such military vehicles in Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel.
The plans were being finalized by Egypt’s newly appointed Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he made his first visit to Sinai on Monday following the killing of 16 border guards on Aug. 5.
Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist militants and the conflict is an early test for President Mohamed Mursi – elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak – to prove he can rein in militants on the border with Israel.
“Al-Sisi will supervise the putting together of final plans to strike terrorist elements using aircraft and mobile rocket launchers for the first time since the beginning of the operation,” an Egyptian security source said.
Another security source said the army was planning to attack and besiege al-Halal mountain in central Sinai, using weapons including tanks, where militants were suspected to be hiding.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military said on Monday it would deploy its Iron Dome air defense system, designed to intercept and destroy rockets, at the border.