Israeli, Saudi press: Egypt allowed Israeli forces to enter Sinai, arrest illegal immigrants
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London-based Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Thursday that the Egyptian Armed Forces allowed an Israeli patrol to cross the Egyptian-Israeli borders into Sinai to detain and transfer illegal Sudanese and Eritrean immigrants who tried to cross into Israel on August 1. 

The newspaper added that 15 immigrants had managed to cross the border fence between the two countries and were arrested by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after some of the immigrants were shot by Egyptian Armed Forces while trying to climb the fence. 

Asharq al-Awsat reported that an Israeli security official said to Israeli media outlets that “the illegal immigrants know that they’re gambling with their lives on these trips to Israel, while terrorist activities of the Islamic State in Sinai increase. The Egyptian army no longer tolerates those who rebel against security forces, and shoots anyone who moves around Sinai without permission.”

According to the Israeli narrative, a special Israeli force coordinated with the Egyptian military to enter Sinai to transfer those who were shot by the Egyptian side, to prevent them from crossing the borders. 

Israeli forces transferred the injured to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment, while the rest were taken to the Saharonim Prison in the Negev, Asharq al-Awsat continued. 

Mada Masr attempted to confirm the Israeli allegations. However, official spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ahmed Abou Zeid said he has no information on the incident. 

Times of Israel newspaper had reported last Sunday that the Israeli army arrested 15 illegal immigrants who crossed the borders on Saturday.

The Times added that the detainees were transferred to Saharonim Prison, which is “a detention center used principally for illegal African migrant workers.”

The newspaper also reported that a statement made by the Israeli army claimed that they were apprehended in the Nirzana area in the south, and that the cause of their injuries was not immediately clear, but “gunfire was heard in the area earlier.”

Fears that Israel will breach Egyptian borders — using the excuse of fighting terrorist threats in Sinai  have been escalating recently. Former head of the Israeli Edom Brigade Roi Elkabetz made a statement last month saying that, “Terrorism in Sinai is escalating and threatening to target Israeli citizens at any moment. Our duty is to preempt their attacks and hit them with ruthlessness and determination.”

Meanwhile, during his inauguration ceremony, the new head of the Edom Brigade said, “On the other side of the border, evident changes are taking place, forcing us to be ready for any scenario or deterioration in the situation, to continue protecting our southern towns and to keep the peace.”

The border fence between Egypt and Israel, which was constructed in 2010, extends over 245 kilometers. Recently, the fence was enhanced with security measures, radars and cameras, as well as intensive patrols to stop the flow of illegal African immigrants, whose numbers have reached about 50,000 according to recent estimates.