Israel has carried out several drone strikes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula aimed at suspected militants, a former senior Israeli official has claimed. The drone strikes come just days after two Egyptian policemen were killed by a roadside bomb placed by the ISIS branch, Wilayat Sinai.
The ISIS group’s self-styled Amaq news agency said a bomb planted by militants targeted a police mine clearing vehicle, but it was not clear whether it was referring to the same incident. The interior ministry said a police lieutenant and a sergeant were killed when a roadside bomb tore through a convoy, also wounding two officers and a conscript.
Militants in the peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in attacks since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Egypt – which has also been carrying out a widespread crackdown against militants in the troubled peninsula – has sanctioned the strikes. The source said that “dozens of militant attacks by an Islamic State affiliate” had sparked closer cooperation in recent years between Israel and Egypt, which signed a peace deal in 1978 but have had a fraught relationship at times.
The Israeli military’s deputy chief, Major General Yair Golan, also said that cooperation between the two Middle East countries was improving,
“It’s not about love, it’s not about common values. I wouldn’t describe it as the relationship we have with the United States of America, but I think it’s a good starting point.”
The report comes a day after Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to revive peace talks with the Palestinians. The visit is the first in nearly a decade and has been interpreted as the latest sign of warming ties with Shoukry saying,
“My visit to Israel comes today at a crucial and challenging juncture for the Middle East.” [Resolving the decades-old conflict would have a] far-reaching and dramatic and positive impact on the overall conditions of the Middle East region. Egypt remains ready to contribute toward achieving this goal.”
During the meeting, Netanyahu welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s “recent offer of Egyptian leadership and efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians and a broader peace in our region.”