Israel strikes in Sinai with Cairo's approval

Home"TO THE ONE"Israel strikes in Sinai with Cairo's approval
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Israël frappe dans le Sinaï avec l'aval du Caire
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. - Photo credits: Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Since 2015, about 100 air raids have been carried out against ISIS cells.

Israël frappe dans le Sinaï avec l'aval du Caire

Corresponding to Jerusalem

The secret was already partly cracked. On several occasions since the summer of 2015, jihadist groups operating from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula have accused Israel of conducting air strikes against their members. The two countries, for their part, did their utmost to preserve the mystery about the details and scale of this campaign - until the New York Times reveals the pot with roses. According to US and British officials quoted by its Cairo correspondent on Sunday, more than 100 Israeli-controlled drones, helicopter gunships or fighter jets have, in the past two years, targeted cells of the Islamic State group in this huge desert territory. Neither the Jewish state nor Egypt reacted to these claims.

The Israeli army, confronted from time to time with rocket fire coming from Sinai, generally limits itself to indicating that it will not allow the jihadists who operate on its border to violate its sovereignty with impunity. But the inability of the Egyptian military to restore order in Sinai has gradually encouraged it to assume a more active role. Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi's coup in the middle of the summer of 2013 and his election as President of the country coincided with an intensification of the jihadist insurgency in the north of the peninsula. Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers have since been killed. On October 31, 2015, a Russian plane that had just taken off from Sharm el-Sheikh was destroyed in an attack claimed by the local branch of the Islamic State.

The IDF generals, fearing that jihadist terrorism will eventually turn against Israel, have spared no support from the Egyptian army. After the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the arrival in power of Marshal al-Sisithey considerably relaxed Schedule 3 of the 1979 peace treaty signed by the two countries. Egyptian helicopters and F-16s now fly freely over the Sinai Peninsula in pursuit of jihadists. "It has even happened that their aircraft mistakenly enter our airspace," said a former senior Israeli official, but the excellent coordination between our two armies allowed us to manage these incidents without degenerating.

Strict censorship of the army

The transmission of information collected by Israeli military intelligence to their Egyptian counterparts was also emphasized. "In a number of cases where the Egyptian armed forces are unable to intervene in time on the basis of the indications we are sending them, our aircraft may strike at Sinai - with full agreement and Egyptian authorities ", continues the former Israeli official. The impact of this contribution on the balance of forces is however difficult to determine.

According to New York Times, this unprecedented collaboration between two countries, which clashed three times before making peace in 1979, was personally approved by the Egyptian president. The markings identifying the helicopters involved in these strikes were reportedly hidden and the Israeli army ordered strict censorship of these operations. The closure of Sinai to journalists has also helped to keep up appearances. One of the purposes of those efforts would be not to embarrass the Egyptian authorities. "President al-Sisi is not trying to hide the close working relationship between our two countries," said the former Israeli official, "but he will no doubt be very upset to see publicly exposed the fact that the Egyptian army is incapable to manage the jihadist threat alone - especially since we are a few weeks away from the presidential election. "

Source: © Israel strikes in Sinai with Cairo's approval

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