Egypt has secretly allowed Israel to carry out air strikes against ISIS-affiliated fighters in the Sinai Peninsula with the approval of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to a New York Times report.
The report, written by David Kirkpatrick on Saturday, claims that unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and planes conducted more than 100 air strikes against the terrorists in Egypt’s northern Sinai over a period of more than two years. The key trigger for Israeli engagement was the 2015 terrorist attack in which Sinai-based terrorists shot down a Russian passenger jet, killing 224 people on board.
The report is based on seven current or former British and American officials involved in Middle Eastern policy. Israeli officials have declined to comment, whilst Egyptian military spokesperson Tamer al-Refaei told Egypt Today that the report was not “not credible”.
According to sources quoted in the article, the agreement “is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region. Shared enemies like ISIS, Iran and political Islam have quietly brought the leaders of several Arab states into growing alignment with Israel — even as their officials and news media continue to vilify the Jewish state in public”.
The report mentions the secret meeting in February 2016 between then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, President el-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the meeting, Kerry proposed a regional agreement in which Egypt and Jordan would guarantee Israel’s security as part of a deal for a Palestinian state. Netanyahu reportedly challenged the idea, reminding Kerry that the IDF was already supporting Egypt’s military, and was therefore not in a position to guarantee security for Israel.
The Sinai has been a hotbed for Jihadi terrorists for several years, where hundreds of Egyptian security personal have been killed attempting to fight the insurgency. In November 2017, the terrorists killed 311 Sufi Muslim in a mosque in northern Sinai.
There have also been several incidents over the past few years of missiles from Sinai fired towards the southern Israeli town of Eilat.