JERUSALEM — Israeli officials said today that Egypt is violating the historic 1979 peace treaty between the two countries by deploying tanks in the demilitarized Sinai desert near the Israeli border.
Egypt has been building up its military presence in the lawless area since Islamic militants there attacked an army post on Aug. 5 and killed 16 soldiers.
Under the peace accord, Egypt was only allowed to have lightly armed policemen in the zone along the border with Israel. Limited numbers of tanks were permitted only in a zone on the far western side of the peninsula, within 30 miles of the Suez Canal.
Israel, which also views the Islamic militants as a threat, agreed last year to exceptions to the treaty allowing Egypt’s military to deploy troops with heavier weaponry into the most sensitive zone of eastern Sinai close to the border.