IDF warns over danger of complex Sinai terror attack


A senior IDF officer warned yesterday about the danger of a serious terror attack by ISIS-affiliated Islamists based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Col. Arik Chen, Deputy Commander of the IDF’s Border Division briefed journalists and told them that the threat of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in November, “is of great concern to the army.” ABM has waged a deadly terror campaign against Egyptian forces in Sinai since the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power in 2013. In response, Egypt’s military has launched an ongoing offensive against the group, including the destruction of more than 2,000 smuggling tunnels into Sinai from the Gaza Strip.

Although the regime in Cairo has been the primary target for ABM, the group has also made clear that it is committed to attacking Israel. Last January, two rockets were fired by the group on Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, also an important tourist resort and commercial port. A further 30 rockets were fired into Israel from Sinai during last summer’s Gaza conflict. Yesterday, ABM warned via Twitter that they would attack Israel with 150 rockets. ABM is also thought to have been responsible for an attempted border infiltration via the Sinai Peninsula late last year, in which two Israeli soldiers were injured. There were 28 cases of Israeli soldiers being fired upon from Sinai in 2014.

Chen told journalists, “The scenario we have to deal with is a wide-scale attack against either our forces or civilians in the area, such as communities in the Nitzana area, Eilat or Route 12.” Indicating that the threat level had increased, he explained “we understand that the basic scenario has changed to a multi-pronged terror attack that will involve dozens of terrorists. This demand a proper response. We are building our forces accordingly.”

Security cooperation between Israel and Egypt was underscored yesterday when Egypt’s President al-Sisi told the Washington Post in a major interview that he speaks to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a lot.”