Israeli forces carried out strikes in the Egyptian-ruled Sinai Peninsula recently, targeting militants positions in northern Sinai, witnesses claimed.
According to a report by the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed media outlet, Israeli aircraft hit militants targets inside Egyptian territory in the northern Sinai Peninsula, not far from the border with the Gaza Strip. The targets were located just outside of the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
The strikes reportedly were carried out with the approval of the Egyptian military.
The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed cited eyewitnesses who said that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) carried out the attacks, hitting vehicles used by militants’ cells in the peninsula, as well as underground infrastructure and terror tunnels.
No confirmation of the report was made by either Egyptian or Israeli officials.
Earlier this year, the New York Times cited US and British sources which claimed that Israel had hit militant targets in the Sinai Peninsula more than 100 times over the past two years.
The attacks were reportedly carried out at the behest of Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in order to aid his country’s efforts to drive out ISIS forces from the northern Sinai.
“The covert alliance between Egypt and Israel on counterterrorism shows how the rise of the Islamic State and other Islamist militant groups has helped forge quiet partnerships between Israel and its longtime Arab adversaries,” said Greg Jaffe.
Since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reached power through a military coup in 2013, the relations with Israel has flourished in an unprecedented way on both the security and intelligence levels in the Sinai Peninsula
But it’s not just about the Islamic State.
On the political level, al-Sisi had pointed in different occasions his intention to enhance intimate diplomatic relation with Israel-in other words full normalization or what al-Sisi called “warmer peace”.
In 2016,al-Sisi promised Israel “warmer” peace adding that Egypt is ready to mediate to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In the same year, Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry to Israel, which was the first state visit for an Egyptian foreign minister in nine years.
The visit looked like the meeting of old friends and partners as both Shoukry and Netanyahu watched football together, exaggeratedly exchanged pleasantries, and met in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.
In a former separate occasion, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has also considered Israel practices against Palestinians within the context of “security” rather than “aggression”during a meeting with High School top students at the foreign ministry headquarters last August.
At that time, Shoukry’s statement on the Israeli policies was reported by the Israeli media as a move from the Egyptian Foreign Minister for defending Israel. “Egypt FM defends Israel, Says Policy, not Terrorism”, said the Times of Israel news heading on Shoukry’s comments.
On the economic front that has thawed recently however with a $15 billion deal with an Israeli company to supply natural gas to Egypt. Al-Sisi has come out publicly in support for the deal, saying it brought big advantages to Egypt and will help turn the country into a regional energy hub.
Egypt’s Al-Sisi even went farther than that this year when Israel’s Embassy in Egypt celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Catastrophe(Nakba Day), which commemorate the catastrophe day of the establishment of the State of Israel, in Cairo.
It was the first such event since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and the 25 the January Revolution. Israel closed its Cairo embassy in 2011 after crowds stormed the building, but it has since reopened in a more secure facility.
The celebration took place at the Nile Ritz Carlton in Cairo.It was attended mostly by foreign diplomats, businessmen, as well as representatives from the Egyptians government.