Islamic State claims ‘proof’ of Israeli airstrikes in northern Sinai
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Islamic State claims ‘proof’ of Israeli airstrikes in northern Sinai

Jihadist group shows off Hebrew labels on munitions purportedly found in aftermath of raid in restive Egyptian peninsula

A member of the Islamic State's Sinai affiliate purporting to show Israeli-made munitions found in the rubble of an airstrike in a video released by the Amaq news agency on May 23, 2018. (screen capture, Amaq)
A member of the Islamic State's Sinai affiliate purporting to show Israeli-made munitions found in the rubble of an airstrike in a video released by the Amaq news agency on May 23, 2018. (screen capture, Amaq)

The Islamic State’s official media outlet claimed Wednesday that Israeli war planes recently struck civilian homes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

A video released by the Amaq news agency showed Hebrew labels on the munitions found in the rubble of the airstrike in northern Sinai.

“These are the remains from the bombings by the Jews, the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs, who are aided by dictator Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, against the mujaheddin in the Sinai,” one fighter said in the video.

Israel has assisted Egypt throughout its fight with the Islamic State terrorist group in the Sinai, and its precursors. According to foreign reports, this has included conducting drone strikes in the peninsula on Islamic State targets. It has also reportedly taken the form of significant intelligence sharing.

More publicly, since 2013, Israel has also allowed additional Egyptian forces into the peninsula, beyond the level permitted under the 1979 peace accord between the two countries. Heavy weapons, like tanks, artillery and attack helicopters, have been brought into Sinai to fight the Islamists, a sign that Jerusalem is not concerned those big Egyptian guns could be turned against it.

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Israel was covertly carrying out a full-blown aerial campaign against IS targets in Sinai, with Sissi’s blessing. The Israeli aircraft are reportedly often unmarked and sometimes use indirect routes in a bid to cover up the origin of the strikes.

Early this year, the Egyptian military launched a massive security operation in northern Sinai as part of its efforts to oust the jihadist group from the peninsula’s restive north.

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch warned that Egypt’s anti-IS campaign included the widespread destruction of civilian homes, commercial buildings and farms in Northern Sinai province.

“Turning people’s homes into rubble is part of the same self-defeating security plan that has restricted food and movement to inflict pain on Sinai residents,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the watchdog’s Mideast director.

HRW said also the destruction has extended well beyond two government-designated security buffer zones in the Sinai cities of al-Arish and Rafah.

Illustrative: A picture taken on November 28, 2017, from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an explosion close to the border on the Egyptian side of the divided city. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Egypt has built the buffer zone along Gaza’s border in an effort to prevent jihadists from using a vast underground tunnel network that was created to evade a decade-old Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory. It also bulldozed homes and olive groves around the el-Arish airport where IS fighters attempted to hit the country’s defense and interior ministers in December.

Egypt has been battling Islamic jihadists for years in Sinai, but the insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

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