Israel downplays Sinai drone strike reports

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In this March 7, 2007, file photo, the Israeli army Heron TP drone, also known locally as the Eitan, flies during a display at the Palmahim Air Force Base in Palmahim, Israel. AP

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister says that his country won’t let “rumors and speculation” harm the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

The late Saturday statement by Moshe Yaalon appears to be an attempt to downplay reports that an Israeli drone killed four militants in a cross-border strike into Egypt.

Yaalon didn’t explicitly deny that Israel carried out the attack, and an Israeli official Sunday refused comment. The official spoke anonymously because it was a sensitive security matter.

Egyptian officials initially said an Israeli drone carried out the Friday attack, but an official quoted by the state media later claimed an Egyptian helicopter was responsible.

Yaalon said that Israel appreciated unspecified actions taken by Egypt against militants over the weekend.

Egypt is highly sensitive to criticism about letting Israel carry out strikes on its soil.

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