Gantz defends Cairo ties after Avi Maoz's Noam calls Egypt an 'enemy state'

An Egyptian soldier stands near the Egyptian national flag and the Israeli flag at the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel, about 430 km (256 miles) northeast of Cairo, October 26, 2011

Avi Maoz's far-right factions hit out at reports that Israel is contemplating the construction of a monument in memory of Egyptian commandos.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused incoming coalition faction Noam of portraying Egypt as an 'enemy state' of Israel after MK Avi Maoz's faction attacked a reported decision to "erect a monument in memory of enemy soldiers," as it wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. 

On Monday evening, KAN News reported that Israel's outgoing government is contemplating the construction of a monument in memory of Egyptian commandos who were killed during the Six Day War in 1967.

The decision reportedly came as a means to appease Egyptian President Abdel Fattah a-Sisi, who voiced concerns over a series of archival material and interviews published by Israeli media in July that claimed the existence of a mass grave in central Israel containing the bodies of Egyptian servicemen.  The alleged mass grave was mentioned during a phone conversation between Sisi and Prime Minister Yair Lapid in July. Following the call, Lapid said his office will investigate the reports. KAN News further reported on Monday that an Egyptian delegation will coordinate with Israel on the construction of the monument.

In response to KAN's report, Maoz's Noam party hit out at Lapid's outgoing government, claiming that "only in Lapid's civic nationalist state would such an absurd idea come up," it wrote on Twitter, referring to Egyptians as "enemy soldiers who tried to destroy us.

"The Israeli people chose a state with a Jewish identity and it will be just that."

Egyptian memorial to soldiers who died during Israel’s War of Independence in southern Israel (credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Benny Gantz: Targeting Egypt is a factual and strategic error

In a counter-statement released on Twitter Thursday afternoon, Gantz lamented Noam's decision to publicly attack Egypt, reaffirming that Egypt is a "strategic partner" for Israel, whose ties to the former are "critical for Israel's security and regional stability." 

"The State of Israel and the defense establishment sees Egypt as an important ally," Gantz said, adding that the far-right one-man party's "attempt to paint Egypt as an enemy state is a factual and strategic error." 

Gantz further condemned Noam's statement and called on prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the faction's comments.

If erected, the monument for the commandos will be the third such structure built in honor of Egyptian fighters on Israeli land. One was built along Road 35 near Kiryat Gat and another was erected in Ad Halom, near Ashdod.

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