Israelis, Egyptians Cooperate on Terror in Sinai

(Wall Street Journal) Adam Entous and Charles Levinson - Israel and Egypt are quietly cooperating to quell Islamist militants along their border, Western officials say. Cooperation has increased since last month's ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Four Islamists from Ansar Jerusalem who were preparing to fire rockets into Israel were killed in an airstrike Friday that was conducted by Israel, according to Western officials. The understanding between senior Israeli security officials and their Egyptian counterparts, Western officials say, is that Israel will take direct action only as a last resort if the Egyptians aren't in a position to stop an imminent threat from Sinai. Such an Israeli intervention would be "very rare" because of Egyptian sensitivities. The arrangement shows the extent to which the Israeli and Egyptian militaries have closed ranks against militants massing in Sinai. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in a statement issued Saturday: "The State of Israel is aware of and appreciates increased activity by the Egyptian military recently against terrorism across the Sinai Peninsula." Egypt's new national security adviser, Raafat Shehata, has deep ties to Israeli intelligence, as does Gen. Nader al-Aasar, the new head of Egyptian intelligence's international relations branch. These ties helped facilitate the agreement to allow Egypt to send a surge of military forces into Sinai to combat the growing militant threat there. Israeli officials say they have detected in recent months a dramatic increase in the number of militant groups operating in Sinai, as well as upticks in weapons smuggling and an upgrading of weapons capabilities.

2013-08-16 00:00:00

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