Jerusalem – Relations between Israel and Egypt are tense. Both sides famously concluded a peace treaty in 1978 under the Camp David Accords, which led to Israel’s return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982, but diplomacy between the two nations shows a strained relationship.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the political-security staff in the Israel Defense Ministry, recently submitted a formal letter of complaint to the Egyptian authorities about military maneuvers the Egyptian army recently held that were “directed against Israel.”

Maj. Gen. Gilad was recently in Cairo, where he met with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman and Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi.

In the course of those meetings, Maj. Gen. Gilad said Israel was concerned by “the absence of any relations between the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Egyptian Army.” 

“[T]here are no visits by Egyptian officers to Israel, no delegation exchanges and meetings between collegial counterparts,” Maj. Gen. Gilad said.

The director of the Egyptian Army’s Intelligence Branch has not visited Israel despite the IDF Intelligence Branch director’s visit to Cairo.

Maj. Gen. Gilad also noted that Israel was concerned by “Egyptian Army exercises that are directed to meet an Israeli threat and, yes, by the fact that Israel is treated it as if it were an enemy and by the central focus by the Egyptian officers on building military strength.”

In conclusion, Maj. Gen. Gilad protested the “absence of a culture of peace between the two armies, which could have salient negative ramifications.”

Mr. Tantawi replied that improving relations between the armies would become possible in the future, in tandem with progress in the regional peace process.

He said Egypt’s military buildup had been spurred by the security challenges it faces, which has obliged it to build an effective deterrence force. 

Ever since the Yom Kippur War, the Egyptian Army has been upgrading the quality and quantity of weapons and equipment in its arsenal and seeking out Western military equipment, particularly American weaponry.

The Egyptian Army placed special emphasis on remedying its weaknesses, and purchased Apache helicopter gunships, F-16s, mobile anti-aircraft systems and advanced munitions. The Israel Defense Forces and Israeli Air Force also operate many of these same weapon systems.

The Egyptian army did not discard its old Soviet equipment; rather, it simply bought newer equipment in addition. They bolstered their maneuvering ranks and their mobile artillery troops, as well as increasing the number of M-113 armored personnel carriers in use.

The Egyptians also expanded their navy, purchasing missile boats, frigates and submarines. Egypt now has the largest army in the Arab world. 

The Egyptian Army has maintained training to give its troops offensive capabilities. It is safe to assume that those efforts are being made not solely in anticipation of a conflict with Sudan or Libya but, rather, from fear of another round of warfare in the Middle East, in which the the Israeli-Arab conflict takes center stage.

The strength of the Egyptian regime, first and foremost of President Hosni Mubarak, relies mainly on the strength of the military. It fears efforts by the Egyptian opposition to attack and to damage the regime.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.