Israel unfazed as Egyptian fighter jets penetrate its airspace

For first time since 1973 war, aircraft briefly crossed border during several sorties against Islamic State; Israeli officials call violations ‘minor’

An Egyptian Air Force F-16 fighter jet (screen capture: YouTube)
An Egyptian Air Force F-16 fighter jet (screen capture: YouTube)

Egyptian military jets entered Israeli airspace on several occasions in recent months during raids on Islamic State affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula.

The airspace violations were brief and did not elicit a response from the Israeli military.

According to Ynet the incidents were the first known instance since 1973’s Yom Kippur War that Egyptian fighter jets flew over Israel.

Last month, underlining the potential for miscalculation in such circumstances, two Turkish F-16 jets shot down a Russian plane which Ankara said violated its airspace, sparking a bilateral crisis.

Egypt has been operating extensively against Islamic State affiliates in Sinai in recent months, as jihadists have increasingly attacked both military and civilian targets in the region.

The insurgency has grown since the 2011 popular uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. After the army overthrew his successor, Mohammed Morsi, in July 2013, attacks surged. Islamic State’s Sinai Province has launched dozens of attacks against Egyptian soldiers. In October the group said it smuggled and detonated a bomb on board a Russian plane in the peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

In light of the threat posed by IS, Israel has allowed Egypt to mobilize large numbers of troops to the region, in an agreed departure from the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace agreement that states the peninsula should remain demilitarized.

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