IDF says it could launch preemptive strikes in Sinai
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IDF says it could launch preemptive strikes in Sinai

Senior officer warns army may attack if Egyptian Islamic State affiliate threatens Israeli civilians or soldiers

An IDF Merkava tank rolls along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday, July 28, 2014 (AFP/DAVID BUIMOVITCH)
An IDF Merkava tank rolls along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday, July 28, 2014 (AFP/DAVID BUIMOVITCH)

A senior military officer has said Israel could attack militants affiliated to the Islamic State in neighboring Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, if they were about to attack Israeli soldiers or civilians.

The “threat of terror from Sinai” has grown in recent years, Brigadier General Royi Elcabets said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the end of his two years as commander of the Edom division that controls the border with the Sinai, Elcabets said IS’s Egypt affiliate could attempt an attack on Israel.

“It is our duty to preempt it and strike at it, if and when this happens,” he said in remarks relayed by the military.

Militants loyal to the Islamic State have killed hundreds of Egyptian policemen and soldiers in Sinai since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

The Egyptian military says it has killed more than 1,000 militants in Sinai, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

An Israeli official familiar with the situation in Sinai would not address Elcabets’s remarks, but told AFP that “Israel is coordinated with states in the region on matters pertaining to the war on terror and terror groups.”

According to the official, following the attacks on Egyptian forces in Sinai, “Israel agreed to Egypt’s request to allow more Egyptian forces and devices into Sinai, and provided intelligence to Egypt.”

The amount of Egyptian military forces allowed in Sinai is stipulated in the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which led to its withdrawal from the peninsula.

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