JERUSALEM, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Israel's defense establishment is confident that the dismissal of Egypt's top military chiefs will not hinder its security cooperation with Cairo.
"It was a surprise, especially as this occurred in the middle of a military operation to flush out militants from the Sinai Peninsula," an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. But he added that "I don't think this will influence relations more than Morsi's ascension (already did)."
At a televised news conference on Sunday, Yasser Ali, a spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, announced the retirements of defense minister and head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Hussein Tantawi, and army chief of staff Sami Enan.
The announcement came as Egyptian troops were engaged in combat with militants in Sinai, where heavily-armed assailants said to be affiliated with al-Qaida stormed last week an Egyptian military outpost located on the border with Israel and killed 16 soldiers.
The attack, which brought to surface stunning intelligence failures, assisted Morsi in reclaiming political power that the military had seized in the aftermath of the ouster of ex-president Hosni Mubarak last year. He has nullified a constitutional declaration issued by the military shortly after he took office, replacing it with his own declaration, one that provides broad legislative and executive powers.
"The new guys come from the same place as their predecessors. The new appointments grew up in an Egyptian army that received U.S. assistance, and they will also receive U.S. cash," said the Israeli official, referring to the annual 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in military aid that Egypt receives from Washington.
"The big enemy for Egypt is the Bedouin in Sinai, not Israel," the official said, adding that Cairo is more concerned about Iran' s efforts to establish its hegemony in the region.
On Monday, other Israeli officials responded to the shake-up in Egypt, voicing optimism that the security cooperation between the two countries will continue in the foreseeable future.
One official said that while Israel maintained a "relatively warm" relationship with Tantawi, his successor "is well familiar with Israel's top security echelon in its entirety."
In another sign that Egypt and Israel are maintaining coordination, Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer, head of the Israeli army's Planning Directorate, has visited Egypt twice since Morsi was elected the president, the Yediot Aharonot daily reported on Tuesday.
During his last visit two weeks ago, Shefer and his Egyptian counterparts, among them the new defense minister, discussed the possibility of bolstering security ties between the two countries, the report said.