Seven members of a multinational observer force, including five Americans, one French and one Czech, died on Thursday when their helicopter crashed in Egyptian Sinai hospital, an Israeli source told AFP. “There are seven dead, including five Americans, one French and one Czech,” all members of the multinational force charged with monitoring the implementation of peace between Israel and Egypt, the Israeli source said.
Sinai hospital: Mark Esper intended to withdraw American troops
There are an estimated 400 American soldiers stationed in the region under the auspices of the Multinational Observer Force (MFO), a peacekeeping group co-founded by Israel in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt. However, a May report said that then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper intended to withdraw American troops from the peninsula.
A Wall Street Journal report said that State Department and Israeli government officials were opposed to the withdrawal. The United States has also pledged to provide a third of MFO’s annual operating expenses, says the organization. It also receives funding and military supplies from other countries, including Britain, Australia, France, Italy and Japan.
The incident comes amid the implementation of ambitious development projects on the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Suez Canal, Israel and Gaza. In the region, the instability generated by armed groups persists, despite an intensified military campaign. Large-scale attacks on military and government positions have declined, but combatants have changed tactics, organizing more individual attacks, deploying snipers and planting explosives, say security sources and analysts.