• Avner Avraham

Is Egypt threatening Israel? Why is the Egyptian army intensifying?

IDF Lt. Col. Eli Dekel, Retired, discusses whether Egypt’s military build-up poses a threat to Israel.

Dekel served in the Intelligence branch of the IDF for 20 years, specializing in geographical intelligence, which researches military and civilian infrastructure systems and analyzes the significance of concurrent infrastructure development in terms of the state of the nation. In the following discussion Dekel paints a general picture of the Egyptian military, surveying its military’s buildup and infrastructure development since 2007, focusing especially on the rise to power of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013.

Dekel analyzes, inter alia, the following infrastructure systems:

1. The number of crossings over the Suez Canal has jumped 1,000% since 2004!

● Until 2004, there were six crossings along the Suez Canal (five bridges and one tunnel). Since then, 33 new permanent crossings have been erected. In addition, Egypt has advanced another 20 bridge platoons towards the area of the canal, most of them able to rapidly build pontoon bridges. Permanent bases have been built for these new platoons, some of them in the Sinai. In total there are now 59 ways to cross the canal. Some of these are tunnels, through which troops can be quickly dispatched by surprise without interrupting naval traffic. Most of the growth in bridge construction has taken place since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in Egypt.

2. The Sinai was overhauled in 2007-2010—the logistics network was doubled.

● Until 2007, the Egyptian army concerned itself with laying the infrastructure to absorb several divisions into the Sinai. It did so while consistently chipping away at the provisions of the Peace Treaty, which place strict restrictions on Egypt’s military presence in the Sinai and prohibit the Egyptian army from crossing the Nahal Yam-Rephidim-Sharm el-Sheikh line.

● Between 2007-2010, Egypt began an intense process of doubling its logistics network in the Sinai, which included expanding its network of ammunition warehouses by 158% and the military’s subterranean fuel reservoirs by 130%. It is patently clear to me that the decision to double, in such a short period, the logistics network built in the Sinai over 32 years was made by Egypt’s President Mubarak himself; it was not done on the whim of a local commander. Academic researchers I have spoken to were unable to point to a reason. I have my own theory, which I’ll elaborate on when we meet to discuss this document.

An analysis of the military build-up and the development of the infrastructure systems in the Sinai and the Canal front, leads Dekel to the conclusion that the Egyptian Army’s focus is on preparing a theatre of war against Israel in Sinai. By contrast, the Egyptian Army is barely engaged in preparation for potential threats from such actors as Libya, Ethiopia. Turkey and Iran.

In his seminar Dekel explains the reasons underlying Egypt’s preparations for military conflict with Israel, and discusses the capabilities it has developed following the spate of military materiel procurements and the development of military infrastructure systems.