The risk posed to UN peacekeepers by the Islamic State’s growing activity in Sinai can no longer be ignored, an Arab intelligence source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The UN moved troops from the IS-heavy northern Sinai to the calmer south, he added, after UN officials discussed the matter with their Egyptian and Israeli counterparts.
For now, the source said, the overall security of Egypt and Israel is unlikely to be affected.
“Egypt and Israel tackle jihadi activity in Sinai in tandem,” he said. “The fact that the UN forces withdrew actually bodes well – it means Israel and Egypt can work closely together without buffers. On the flip side, it is probably a sign that they expect things in Sinai to deteriorate.”
IS has clashed with the Egyptian army on a near daily basis, and enjoys widespread popular support from the local Bedouin tribes.
On Wednesday, IS claimed in one of its daily social media updates that an explosive device detonated near an Egyptian police contingent.
“Several policemen were hurt, including the infidel Yasser Hafez, the deputy commander of the northern Sinai police,” the tract read.
Meanwhile, the London-based Asharq al Awsat newspaper reported that Hamas has recently beefed up security along the Gaza-Egypt border.
The move comes in the wake of a meeting between Hamas decision-makers and Egyptian military intelligence officials, marking the end of a two-year disconnect during which Cairo accused Hamas of meddling in its domestic affairs.
Hamas sees the reinforcement of its troops in the area, where Egyptian forces and Islamic State loyalists clash on a daily basis, as a confidence-building measure.
Last month, Breitbart Jerusalem quoted a Salafi leader in the Gaza Strip as saying that the media tends to ignore the impressive gains Welayat Sinai, IS’ Sinai affiliate, makes vis-à-vis the Egyptian army.