Sunday, March 11, 2007

IDF Establishes New Southwestern Border Brigade

The IDF announced on Wednesday the creation of a new brigade whose primary responsibility will be to defend the southwestern border of the State of Israel from various threats. The brigade, which was given the name "Sagi," will be based in the region near Mt. Sagi.

The southwestern border which separates Israel and Egypt has proven vulnerable to terrorist infiltration and the smuggling of drugs as well as stolen goods from the Sinai Peninsula. Last month, three Israeli civilians were killed in a bomb attack in Eilat.

In 2006, a 70 percent decrease in smuggling was recorded across the Israel-Egypt border, an improvement when compared to the previous year. In 2005, authorities estimate that 7,000 kilograms of marijuana, 60 kilograms of heroine, and 64,000 kilograms of tobacco and cigarettes were illegally transported from Sinai into Israel. In 2006, those figures dipped to 4,800 kilograms of marijuana, 25 kilograms of heroine, and 12,100 kilograms of cigarettes and tobacco.

Colonel Udi Ben-Moha will assume command of the new brigade.

"This is an important milestone," said GOC Southern Command Major General Yoav Galant said at the brigade's opening ceremony.

"The process is Sisyphean and difficult but I think you are fortunate to take part in this special occasion," Galant said in remarks directed at the brigade's soldiers. "This is an event that doesn't happen every day and I am sure that you will come to appreciate it in the future.

"There's no doubt that the establishment of the brigade is a significant doubling of our forces in this sector," said the commander of the Adom formation, Brigadier General Imad Faras.

"Nonetheless, we must remember that there are more challenges that stand before us and we must continue to develop in many other ways."