Counterterrorism Brings Israel, Egypt Closer
The surge of the terrorist threat in Egypt’s Sinai has brought Cairo and Tel Aviv closer into a secret alliance with reports citing secret Israeli air strikes against terrorist groups in Sinai in support of the Egyptian army.
As Egypt appears unable to stop the terrorists loyal to ISIS in Sinai, which have taken many lives of Egyptian soldiers and police officers, Israel has intervened deploying drones and carrying out more than 100 air strikes inside Egypt with the approval of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
“Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe,” The New York Times said in an in-depth report on the secret Israeli-Egyptian alliance.
The report said Sissi had kept the Israeli strikes secret, only letting a small group of military and intelligence officials in on the cooperation, and has kept northern Sinai a closed military area, barring reporters from the region.
Citing a US source, the paper said that Israel began its airstrikes following the capture of a north Sinai town by terrorists and the downing of a Russian airplane in October 2014 killing 224 people.
But to avoid public relations damage in Egypt were news of the Israeli contribution to get out, the Times says, Israel must cover its tracks: All identifying markings on its drones and aircraft are covered, and some Israeli planes and helicopters fly looping routes in order to create the semblance of being local.
Sinai is largely demilitarized as part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 but Egypt approved Israeli operations as part of the war on ISIS in Sinai. Israel has also been permitted to act to combat arms smuggling by Palestinians into Gaza.