IDF troops at Sinai border .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It is only a matter of time before Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula attempts to carry out a terrorist attack against Israel, Col. Yehuda Hacohen, the commander of the IDF’s Sagi Brigade operating on the border told Army Radio on Wednesday.
The organization formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to Islamic State last year, changing its name to Sinai Province. It has waged a war against Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, which, according to Hacohen, has so far contributed to its decision not to attack Israel.
“Their decision not to launch terrorist attacks against Israel is a rational decision...they are focusing today on fighting against Egypt. They are in a state of constant friction with the Egyptian forces. They prefer not to open up another front, certainly not a front with Israel. They know that the price they would have to pay there would be heavy,” Hacohen said.
The IDF commander, however, does not envision the quiet on the border being maintained.
“In the end it must be remembered this organization was formed by terrorists that dream of a terror attack against Israel, and it will come. It’s clear that there will be a terror attack against Israel, I believe that it will happen during my tenure,” he warned.
He said that his forces prepare with the expectation that such an attack could come at any moment.
“I teach my people to expect it to come tomorrow, to always be ready for it. When it happens, my doctrine is that we must strike a very strong blow at the same point and ensure that there are zero successful actions for the enemy,” he said.
Hacohen said that, judging by the ferocity of the attacks that Sinai Province has carried out on Egyptian security forces, an attack against Israel would seek to do a great deal of damage.
“We see how ISIS operates. ISIS today goes into Egyptian bases and tries to kill as many as possible. And we are preparing for such an action. A situation in which a soldier or citizen is taken captive is a possibility,” he said, adding that Israel had shown in the past that it knows how to deal with such situations.
Despite the success that Sinai Province has had in dealing damaging blows to Egyptian security forces in Sinai, Hacohen envisions Egyptian security forces gaining the upper hand eventually.
“The Egyptians will strengthen their forces in Sinai and will improve their operational effectiveness in their fighting against terrorist organizations. Egypt has no choice but to suppress ISIS. I believe that in a year or two, the Egyptians will effectively act and will put down this organization,” he said.