El-Sissi says Egypt, Israel cooperate against militants

An explosion during an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in el-Arish north Sinai Egypt

An explosion during an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in el-Arish north Sinai Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi told CBS News that Egypt and Israel are cooperating to battle a stubborn Islamic State group (ISIS) insurgency in Sinai, and denied that the tens of thousands of Egyptians jailed since he took power are political prisoners. "It's true. We have a far-reaching cooperation with the Israelis", said Sisi.

When Sisi was asked whether Egypt's cooperation with Tel Aviv in the fight against terrorism in Sinai is the closest in the history of the two countries, he confirmed saying "We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis".

Afterwards, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States contacted the 60 Minutes team to tell them "the interview could not be aired", the network said.

CBS says it was asked not to air the interview soon after it was recorded.

The Gaza offices of President Mahmoud Abbas's official Palestine Television station were attacked and ransacked on Friday, adding to tensions.

CBS did not provide a full transcript of the interview, but it said the retired field marshal was questioned about the crackdown launched after he led the military's overthrow of the democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Among the most notorious detention centre is Egypt's "Scorpion Prison".

In May, Amnesty International also said dozens of political prisoners in Egypt suffer from abuse and torture in "prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement".

El-Sissi has since taking office in 2014 met at least twice with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For years, human rights groups have raised alarms about the situation in Egypt, which saw a 2011 uprising that unseated longtime leader Hosni Mubarak and then the 2012 election of Morsi and his toppling a year later by the military.

There were thousands of armed people in the sit-in for more than 40 days.

"We are trying to stand against extremists who want to impose their ideology on the people. We tried every peaceful means to disperse them".

In February, Egypt launched "Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018" in an effort to rid the peninsula of terrorists.

Human Rights Watch estimates el-Sisi, a former army general, is holding 60,000 political prisoners.

In the interview, Sisi also denies that there are political prisoners in Egypt.

Egypt and Israel concluded in 1979 a peace Treaty.

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