Cairo—The Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt is staging increasingly sophisticated and daring attacks, officials and analysts say, prompting Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian militant group Hamas to form an unlikely alliance against the terrorist group.
Hamas deployed several hundred fighters last week to Gaza’s border with Egypt’s lawless northern Sinai as part of a deal with Egypt to keep Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — militants from entering the coastal enclave.
That came days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised his country’s decision to build a new barrier along the Israel-Egypt border, warning that “we would have been overflowed by thousands of ISIS fighters from Sinai.”
The growing concerns have given birth to the greatest cooperation between the militaries of Egypt and Israel since their 1979 peace deal, according to officials from both countries.
The question is whether the militants’ ambitions can be stopped or, at least, contained.
The well-armed affiliate — known as Wilayat Sinai — has grown bolder since it asserted responsibility for the October bombing of a Russian charter flight over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 aboard.
The group has mounted a steady stream of attacks on Egyptian soldiers, overrunning military posts and targeting them with roadside bombs.
In the April issue of an Islamic State newsletter, al-Naba, the terror group boasts about the attacks.
“Elements of the infidel Egyptian army were attacked today by the soldiers of the caliphate in a number of attacks all over Sinai,” the Islamic State declared, then went on to name six different assaults over several days, including one in the provincial capital, al-Arish.—Agencies