Yesterday’s Israeli drone strike against the Sinai Peninsula was reported to have killed four or five people. Today, the group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, active in the area around the Sinai-Gaza border, says they were the target, and held an impromptu memorial at the site for their slain members.
With Egypt’s military junta blaming anything and everything happening in the Sinai Peninsula on Hamas, it is particularly noteworthy that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis styles itself as a major rival to Hamas, and has long sought al-Qaeda support, hoping to become the official al-Qaeda affiliate of the region around al-Aqsa.
The group has often fired rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, and clashed with Hamas forces that have tried to prevent them to keep the ceasefire intact. Since 2011, it has become increasingly influential in Sinai as well.
Israel has refused to either confirm or deny the strike, which is common when Israel strikes across the border. Egypt’s military junta initially confirmed it, bragging that the strike was carried out in coordination with them. Later yesterday the Egyptian Army denied the report, dubbing it a series of “explosives” that had nothing to do with anything. Today, Egypt denied it even more, insisting nothing happened at all.