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Jerusalem Urges U.S. to Deliver Terror-Fighting Apaches to Egypt

Israeli officials are urging the United States to release ten Apache helicopters for sale to the Egyptian army.

A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said Israel clarified that supplying the helicopters is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security.

Collaboration on security between Israel and Egypt has improved since Morsi’s ouster. In recent months Israel has been intensely lobbying on behalf of Egypt’s interim government. Israel tried to prevent the U.S. from suspending military aid to the Egyptian army; failing at that, now it’s trying to persuade the government and Congress to resume the aid, so the helicopters deal can go through.

The controversy over transferring the Apaches stretches to late 2013, when the Obama administration partially froze military aid to Cairo in response to the army’s overthrow of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-linked then-President Mohammed Morsi. The White House’s move – which was met with something approaching open disbelief by U.S. lawmakersdomestic analysts, and foreign allies – was subsequently reversed, but leaks this week from Egyptian military officials indicated that the weapons were still being held up by the administration.

The Egyptian army, which has relied on Apaches during multiple operations targeted insurgents in the Sinai, is struggling to uproot the jihadist infrastructure in the region. Reuters over the weekend published an assessment suggesting that “victory for the state feels a long way off,” and an Egyptian general and a colonel were killed on Wednesday as security forces moved in on a jihadist base.

[Photo: U.S. Air Force / flickr]