- Published on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 10:38
Egyptian Defense Minister, Hussein al-Tantawi, has announced that Egyptian soldiers in Sinai will be allowed to shoot if attacked, without needing to wait for any orders from him.
The announcement follows Sunday's attack on a checkpoint on the Egypt-Israel border that left 16 Egyptian border policemen dead.
Tantawi's statements came during his meeting in al-Arish in Egypt with Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi, who called for an eradication of crime in the peninsula, and branded the attack as "cowardly".
Mursi also called for closer cooperation between the Egyptian security forces and the Bedouin tribes in Sinai.
The Egyptian army has announced that it will take revenge on the "infidels" who carried out the Sunday's attack at the Egypt-Israel border junction in Rafah.
It stated that it will pursue the "enemies of the nation" in and outside Egypt and make them pay for what they did.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of being behind Sunday's attack.
A statement on the group's website said "Evidently, this crime may well be the work of Israel's Mossad."
The group also accused Mossad of trying to undermine the Egyptian revolution, and said that it was "imperative to review clauses" of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt".
However, Israel's foreign ministry dismissed the Muslim Brotherhood's claims as "nonsense".
Israel's foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said, "Even the person who says this when he looks at himself in the mirror does not believe the nonsense he is uttering."
Israel had warned its citizens to leave the Sinai last week, citing a threat of violence.
On Sunday, hours before the attack on the checkpoint, the Israeli airforce killed a Palestinian gunman from a radical Islamist group, near Gaza's border with Israel.
In the same statement, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed, "It is clearly noticeable that every time a warning like this is issued [by Israel], a terrorist incident takes place in the Sinai."
The United States condemned the attack yesterday, stressing its readiness to help President Mursi to reinforce security and order in Sinai.
The Canadian Foreign Minister, John Bird, also declared his willingness to help the Egyptian authorities to increase security in Sinai.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Egyptian President Mursi and confirmed that the Palestinian people are standing side by side with the Egyptian people in their struggle to root out terrorism.