Speaking today at a ceremony marking the end of his term as a commander on the border with Egypt, Israeli Brigadier General Royi Elcabets talked up the idea of Israeli forces attacking ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, saying the military has a “duty to preempt” if they view ISIS as a threat to Israel.
Israel has been mostly ambivalent about the rise of the ISIS parent organization in neighboring Syria, and throughout that war has mostly attacked ISIS’ foes, including Hezbollah’s top anti-ISIS commanders. Israel is a close ally of the Egyptian junta, however, and Egypt is said to be keen for more help in the ongoing war in Sinai.
After the summer 2013 coup that brought them to power, the Egyptian junta attacked Sinai, claiming that the Islamists there were in league with the democratically-elected government. The group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has grown in power considerably since that coup, and pledged loyalty to ISIS last year. They now simply call themselves the State of Sinai.
The ISIS affiliate has often presented the Egyptian junta’s attacks as them doing the will of Israel, a way to court support from overseas Islamists. The group is also closely linked with the ISIS faction in the neighboring Gaza Strip, which has been fighting against Hamas, and overtly talking about attacking Israel to try to get Israel to attack Hamas, a strategy which has been working so far.