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August 14, 2013 11:46 am
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Report: Western Security Officials Confirm Israel, Egypt Armies Battling Terrorists Together in Sinai

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Satellite image of the Sinai.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed Western security officials, confirmed media speculation that this weekend’s onslaught against terrorists in the Sinai came through coordination between Egyptian and Israeli security forces, although neither side would confirm that they work with the other.

“Israel’s intervention in the Sinai Peninsula—which Egyptian officials denied, and which Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied—would be the clearest manifestation of the high-level interaction between Israeli and Egyptian military and intelligence chiefs, according to the Western officials. Such cooperation between the U.S. allies has increased since last month’s ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, these officials say,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

On Friday, the Associated Press cited two senior Egyptian security officials as saying an Israeli drone strike inside of Egypt in the troubled Sinai Peninsula had killed five suspected terrorists preparing to launch rockets into Israel. AFP cited the Egyptian military as saying that it coordinated the strike with the Israel Defense Forces.

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“The attack was preceded by communications between senior Israeli security officials and their Egyptian counterparts” who “discussed the threat posed by the rocket crew and response options,” the WSJ reported.

“The understanding on both sides is that Israel will take direct action only as a last resort if the Egyptians aren’t in a position to stop an imminent threat from the Sinai,” said Western officials cited by the newspaper, “Such an Israeli intervention would be ‘very rare’ because of Egyptian sensitivities.”

“The arrangement shows the extent to which the Israeli and Egyptian militaries have closed ranks against militants massing on the peninsula,” the WSJ said.

On Sunday, in Sheikh Zuweid, North Sinai, Reuters’ Aswat Masriya website reported that the Egyptian army killed 15-17 militants in an “anti-terrorist” military operation. For two hours late on Saturday evening army Apache helicopters targeted “terrorist” sites in the town of Al-Thoma, south of Sheikh Zuweid and the army used loudspeakers to warn citizens against leaving their homes to shield themselves from rocket fire from military helicopters.

The WSJ cited a “senior Israeli official,” who declined to comment on any understanding between the two countries, but said the security situation in Sinai represents a threat to both countries. “We are respectful of Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai and we are very supportive of Egyptian efforts to deal with these challenges and we have good military to military cooperation,” the official told the WSJ.

“A senior American official” described military cooperation between Israel and Egypt as “better than ever,” the WSJ said.

Since the overthrow of Morsi’s Mulsim Brotherhood regime in Egypt last month, the Egyptian and Israel forces have worked, according to the the New York Times, to close 80% of the tunnels in Sinai that had been used for smuggling goods and weapons to Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist ally, in Gaza.

At a press conference in July, Major General Osama Askar, commander of Egypt’s Third Army, accused Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, of attempting to smuggle 19 Grad rockets from Gaza. Egyptian soldiers intercepted the rocket shipment along the Suez-Cairo highway, which Askar charged was on its way to Cairo to help the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ala Al-Rafati, Hamas’s economy minister, told Reuters last month that tunnel closures since June had cost Gaza around $230 million – approximately a tenth of the GDP of the territory.

In exchange for allowing the IDF to help Egypt control the Sinai, the WSJ cited “Western officials” as saying Israel has lobbied in Washington on behalf of protecting “U.S. military aid to Egypt despite the army’s ouster of the president, arguing that the money helps underpin the 1979 peace accord between the two countries. If U.S. aid is cut off, the Egyptian military could start scaling back their cooperation, Israeli officials have warned their American counterparts.”

The newspaper said Egypt’s new national security adviser, Raafat Shehata,  and Gen. Nader al-Aasar, who was recently promoted to head Egyptian intelligence’s international relations branch, both have ties to Israeli intelligence, and “helped facilitate the agreement between Egypt and Israel to make an exception to the three-decade-old Camp David peace treaty and allow Egypt to send a surge of military forces into the Sinai to combat the growing militant threat there, the Western officials said.”

“Israel’s military uses real-time images along the border with the Sinai from blimps, drone aircraft and satellites to spot potential threats, as was the case on Friday,” according to Western officials cited by the Journal.

The newspaper quoted Anthony Cordesman, a defense expert at Center for Strategic & International Studies, as saying that the cooperation reflected a convergence of interests. “There is a real risk that the Sinai will become an area where the Egyptian military and police are going to lose their freedom of action and ability to move,” he said. “And it’s clear that Israel has every possible interest in stopping that from happening.”

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  • ES

    Mr. Obama is like a flame moving from country to country burning everything he can burn. In my opinion better america and western power keep off their hand in Egypt other wise thursty Russia and China will come and arm these against the new govt.of egypt.
    The reality these powerful nation are roaming around like wolf looking for their frey then after that they will spit the fire until it become a full blown fire.
    The last to suffer is the innocent civilian, children and women who is always helpless.

  • mika

    Why battle al-CIA-da terrorism in the Sinai, why not battle terrorism from where it originates, that is, CIA headquarters and the Vatican NWO gov mafia.

  • Patricia

    I wouldn’t trust the Obama Government as far as I could throw them. Obama is a Communist hiding behind Socialism. He is destroying the US.

  • Fred

    I would not trust Obama & his adviser. USA can be treacherous with the best.

  • Bernard Ross

    It is my view that the appearance of obama being against sisi is a red herring for the street. I believe he gave sisi the green light for the coup. He cannot be seen to be undermining a democratically elected govt but Morsi was not cooperative enough on the sinai and on hamas. The GCC (Qatar/saudi) fund sisi and MB. Obama funded and trained AQ with GCC for almost 2 years while pretending to sit on the fence re arming syrian “rebels”. The Obama/GCC alliance allows the GCC to do what obama cannot be seen to do. israel is also cooperating with the GCC in the gaza cease fire and on Syria.

    • AB

      Saudi hates the MB and never funded them as Qatar has done. The proof is that they gave Egypt several billion dollars in assistance immediately after the removal of Morsi

  • Matt

    Mubarak was a loyal ally but he was not adverse to anti Israel sentiment on the street. Qaddafi while sending envoys to Israel to call off the US coming attack and offering all sorts or concessions to Israel, was calling for a third intifada. His son trying to get street cred over his brothers was starting to send flotilla’s to Gaza. Assad said no uprising in Syria because of his anti-Israel stance. So the Hamas charges against Morsi are a two way bet, if things go bad they will do what they all always do turn on Israel to try to save themselves. So if the 1.3 billion gets cut off I would be seeking it redirect to Israel. Sinai is a problem more to the Suez than to Israel hence the railway. So you could see Egypt broken up into three states north, south and east via a civil war. And the Suez impassable. For 1.3 billion they can use the railway of course the Chinese are first cab off the rank as they are paying for it and building it.

  • Salomon

    Israel and Egypt, under the military rule, go against the Obama doctrine…Cooperation without US mediation. That´s a gambit that US was not expecting. Obama wanted the MB in power, foes of Israel, so he could manipulate the two countries relations, as it happened during the last Gaza war. Al-Sissi in power is a good thing for both countries (less for the MB, Hamas and Obama). Egypt can receive help from Israel, military (intelligence and possibly air support) and politically, since Israel still has friends (congresspersons that are still able to think) in both Houses that could oppose counter maneuver by Obama. The Sultan will take his revenge along the PA-Israel so-called “peace conversations”. Wait and see.

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