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Egypt: Pipeline that supplies gas to Israel attacked

An Egyptian pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan was set on fire.

Tahrir Square
Egyptian anti-government protesters hold their national flag at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Feb. 4, 2011. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

An Egyptian pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan was attacked Saturday as protests against President Hosni Mubarak gripped the nation for almost two weeks.

The state-run Middle East News Agency blamed "subversive elements" for the massive explosion at the natural gas plant in in Al-Arish in the northern Sinai desert.

"Egypt supplies Israel with gas under a 15-year contract and is expected to eventually deliver almost 1 trillion cubic feet. Israel imports about 85 percent of its energy," reports Bloomberg News.

It states that Israel's national infrastructure minister warned last week that the crisis in Egypt could threaten the supply of natural gas to Israel.

The protests in Egypt have also caused concern in Israel that a new government might affect relations between the countries. Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, making it the first Arab nation to do so.

Last week, Israel allowed Egypt to move about 800 troops into the Sinai peninsula for the first time in three decades. The move reflected Israel's concerns about stability in Egypt and its worry that militant Palestinians would use the opportunity to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

The attack on the pipeline comes amid a steady rise in violence on the Sinai peninsula, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bedouins attacked the headquarters of Egypt's state security in Al-Arish on Friday.

Meanwhile, President Obama increased his pressure on Mubarak to step down.

"There must be a transition process that begins now," he said Friday in Washington, "and leads to free and fair elections."

Read more from GlobalPost on the protests in Egypt:

In Tahrir Square, designing a democratic Egypt

Mubarak opposition regroups in peaceful protest

Four ways forward for Egypt

Raw Feed: Showdown with police in Cairo

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/egypt/110205/pipeline-egypt-gas-attacked