For the Second Time in a Month, 2 Rockets Hit Southern Israel from Egypt’s Sinai

For the second time in a month, two rockets were fired in Egypt’s northern Sinai and have landed in southern Israel.

No group claim their responsibility for the rocket attack, but the attack came a day after Sinai Province, a group affiliate to ISIS, claimed that several of its members had been killed by an Israeli drone.

According to Amaq news agency, ISIS official media, an Israeli drone struck a car with five Islamic State members in a village in the northern Sinai near the Egypt-Israel border last Saturday.

Amaq said that the strike occurred near the village of Shabana, south of the town of Rafah.

The rockets fell on the Eshkol region,which borders southern Gaza and the northeastern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

The Israeli army said,“Earlier today, projectiles launched from the Sinai Peninsula hit an open area in the Eshkol regional council.” It added, “No injuries have been reported. Forces are searching the area.”

The incident is the second within the space of a month after four missiles were fired towards the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat.

On February 9, several rockets were fired at Israel’s port town of Eilat from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, with the Iron Dome interception system shooting down three while a fourth landed in an open area, according to the Israeli army.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for firing multiple rockets on Eilat from Sinai. However, there were no reports of any casualties.

In the same context, when asked Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was asked if Israel was behind the airstrike in the Sinai, the defense minister replied in way that confirms the suspicion that Israel launched airstrikes in Sinai on Saturday

Liberman said with a sarcastic response,“Like always, the special forces of Lichtenstein probably took out a few terrorists from Daesh in Sinai,”using the Arabic name for the Islamic State.

He said,“We do not let anything go without a response.”

Violence and unrest have escalated in Northern Sinai as the Egyptian military and police forces have been the target of ongoing attacks which have increased after the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi by a military coup in 2013.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the militant group responsible for a majority of attacks on military personnel, aligned with the Islamic State group in November 2014, changing its name to “Sinai Province”.

Sinai Province has targeted  Egypt’s security forces in various attacks, mostly roadside bombings, and ambushes, as well as operations against security checkpoints.

As a result, the Egyptian armed forces launched an excessive campaign to uproot ISIS from the eastern peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

In this context, the Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation has flourished in an unprecedented way over the past three years.

As security conditions deteriorated in Sinai, “Israel and Egypt have worked closely to combat the burgeoning insurgency in the peninsula over the past three years,”said David Schenker, the director of Program on Arab Politics at Washington Institute.

At the most basic level, Israel has allowed modifications to the security annex of the Camp David Accords.In two dozen occasions” Israel allowed Egypt to deploy troops and equipment, including aircraft that were previously prohibited by the treaty,” said David Schenker.

On the other hand, the Israeli Air Force is taking part in the attacks against ISIS in Sinai and the IDF’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200 is assisting Egyptian forces to collect and decipher information about Sinai Province, according to foreign reports.

In this context, it has been revealed that Israeli drones have been given permission by the Egyptians to strike targets in the Sinai Peninsula. This claim came one week after similar remarks that were made by a retired Israeli official, who revealed that Israel’s drone attacks during the previous year were planned in full cooperation with the Egyptian army.

In addition, intelligence sharing about threats in the peninsula is also boomed– in 2016 Major General Yair Golan, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, described it as “unprecedented.”

Moreover, Israel and Egypt also appear to be cooperating more closely beyond the intelligence sharing and the revisions to Camp David.

According to Schenker, Israel and Egypt have cooperated on the borders mainly in detecting and destructing tunnels from the peninsula into Gaza.

The Egyptian regime and Israel have claimed that these tunnels are utilized by Hamas, among others, to smuggle weapons and personnel.

Furthermore, the most notable security cooperation between both countries mentioned by David Schenker that “Egypt has reportedly allowed Israel carte blanche to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the Sinai, with the authority to target Islamist militants at will.”