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Israel airstrikes at terrorists in Sinai with Egypt’s blessing: NYT

NEW YORK: Egypt has permitted Israel to conduct over a hundred airstrikes on the ISIL/Da’esh-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai, the restive desert peninsula that shares a border with Israel, the New York Times claimed Sunday.
The report details what it calls a “covert war” in Sinai in which “unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets” have been allowed to carry out over 100 raids inside Egyptian territory for over two years, at times more than once a week.
Israel, alarmed at the threat across the border, agreed to take action with the blessing of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as Egypt struggled to deal with the violent uprising that has killed hundreds of Egyptian security forces and civilians, the report said.
“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 newspaper said.
The Times said President 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.
While security coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo is known to be close, the ties are still unpopular in Egypt, despite nearly three decades of peace. In order to keep the cooperation quiet, the Israeli aircraft are often unmarked and sometimes use indirect routes in a bid to cover up the origin of the strikes, the report said.
Israeli and Egyptian officials refused to confirm or comment on the report, which the Times said was based on interviews with seven current or former British and American officials involved in Middle East policy, all speaking on condition of anonymity.
The report quoted American officials as saying that Israel’s air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the militants. The Israel-Egypt collaboration “is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region,” the New York Times said, in which shared concerns over ISIL/Da’esh – have quietly brought the leaders of several Arab states into growing alignment
with Israel.
The report said Egypt’s reliance on Israeli help in the Sinai helped underline why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was so dismissive of Obama Administration peace proposals under which Egypt and Jordan would help guarantee Israeli security if it relinquished full control of adjacent territory for a Palestinian state.
When Secretary of State John Kerry proposed that kind of regional agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scoffed at the idea,” the report said. “Israel’s military was already propping up Egypt’s military, he said, according to the Americans. If Egypt was unable to control the ground within its own borders, Netanyahu argued, it was hardly in a position to guarantee security for Israel.

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