TEL AVIV – Egypt is in the final stages of planning a large-scale campaign against the Islamic State in the Sinai, an Arab intelligence official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The Egyptian army has mobilized tanks, APVs, as well as engineering and artillery units into the peninsula over the past few days, the official said, adding that the operation is poised to take place with coordination from Israel.
According to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Cairo is prevented from sending heavy weaponry into Sinai. However, given the two countries’ common enemy, Israel has been allowing that violation for the past few years so that Egypt can fight militants in Sinai.
“That clause has long ceased to be relevant” when it comes to fighting Sinai militants, the official said. “Israel understands [President Abdel Fatah] Sisi’s needs, and realizes that IS is a common enemy, therefore their operative cooperation is unprecedented at the operative level, with an Egyptian army backed by Israel’s intelligence.”
Asked whether the imminent military campaign was related to the EgyptAir flight that crashed in the Mediterranean last week, the official said the two events were not connected and that the Sinai operation has been in the works for weeks.
According to Egyptian military reports, IS has recently consolidated its control in northern Sinai, mainly in the Sheikh Zweid region, where it has planted landmines. At the same time, Egypt has deployed armored divisions to its south, as well as in the Rafah region.
The Sinai has become one of the region’s top IS zones. Two weeks ago, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that last month alone, 12 jihadists departed Gaza to join the Islamic State in the Sinai.
The recruitment of Gazan jihadists by IS in Sinai comes after a top jihadist official threatened in a recent exclusive interview on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” that it is only a matter of time before the Islamic State’s branch in the Sinai carries out a “big operation” in the Israeli resort town of Eilat and other parts of southern Israel.