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IS claims Egypt-Israel gas pipeline blast that caused fire, but little damage

Terror group provides no evidence for claim it was behind explosion at el-Arish al-Qantara in Sinai; Israeli energy official reportedly says gas is still flowing

Illustrative: A gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula sabotaged by a jihadist group in 2012. (AP/File)
Illustrative: A gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula sabotaged by a jihadist group in 2012. (AP/File)

The Islamic State terror group claimed Thursday that its forces had blown up a gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt.

blast hit the el-Arish al-Qantara natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported, citing testimony from witnesses and local Egyptian authorities.

IS claimed responsibility in a message on its Telegram channel, but did not provide any evidence.

According to a senior Egyptian official, the explosive caused a fire but little other damage and there were no casualties.

Gen. Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha, who governs the northern part of the peninsula, said all the pipeline valves were promptly sealed off to control the fire that followed Thursday’s blast.

Authorities were still investigating the cause of the explosion, Shousha said.

There was no official acknowledgment of the IS claim by Israel, but Channel 13 quoted a senior energy official denying the pipeline had been damaged in any way. The official said gas was continuing to flow from the pipeline without any problem.

Gunmen in Sinai have made similar claims about attacking pipelines in the past, including in February, which Israeli officials also denied.

The gas pipelines running through the Sinai Peninsula have long been a favorite target of jihadist groups in the restive region.

Dozens of attacks took place in the wake of the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, mostly targeting a pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel.

A 2014 bombing of a gas pipeline south of el-Arish by suspected al-Qaeda-inspired saboteurs sabotaged another pipeline — but it was carrying gas to Jordan, not Israel.

Israel later stopped importing gas from Egypt, partly due to soaring demands in Egypt and partly because the attacks made the supply unreliable.

And Israel’s discovery of massive natural gas reserves in its Mediterranean economic zone made imports unnecessary, turning the Jewish state into an energy exporter for the first time in its history.

Israel’s Leviathan field, discovered in 2010, is estimated to hold 535 billion cubic meters (18.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate. The Tamar field, which began production in 2013, has estimated reserves of up to 238 billion cubic meters (8.4 trillion cubic feet).

Agencies contributed to this report.

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