What do the warning shots from Sinai mean?

The two rockets that were fired at Israel from Sinai on Monday were probably launched by ISIS. Should Israel consider this attack as a warning?

February 21, 2017 06:47
2 minute read.

AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The two rockets fired on Monday morning from Sinai into Israel should be seen as a warning. It’s a signal that ISIS, which is most probably behind the attack, the second one from the peninsula this month, is becoming more edgy and nervous about the increasing action in Sinai attributed to Israel.

In the past, most of the rockets were fired from the southern part of the Egyptian-Israeli border, in the direction of Eilat and the neighboring Jordanian town of Aqaba.

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Indeed, earlier this month ISIS claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage fired from the Sinai toward Eilat. The Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has the capability of covering Eilat and Aqaba, intercepted three of the projectiles, while a fourth landed in open territory.

Monday’s rocket attack came the day after Islamic State-linked media claimed that an unmanned Israeli drone had bombed and killed four members of ISIS in the northern Sinai region.

According to the Islamic State Amaq news agency, the four “fell as martyrs to the Jewish enemy,” in a strike that targeted a car carrying the jihadists in a village south of the town Rafah.

The ISIS attacks against Israel are the group’s retaliation for what they see as increased Israeli assistance to the Egyptian army and security forces battling to eradicate the radical Muslim insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

Foreign reports said in the past two years that the Israeli military has been providing intelligence to the Egyptian army, alongside US, British and French intelligence agencies and occasionally with air strikes against ISIS fighters, upon the request of the Egyptian military.

The cooperation between Israel and Egypt, led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is based on mutual interests against mutual enemies – Hamas in Gaza and ISIS in Sinai. According to foreign reports, this cooperation has increased in recent years.
ISIS video threatens Israel in January 2016

Here lies the inherent problem.

ISIS is also present on Israel’s northern border in the Syrian Golan Heights. But there, Israel is free to retaliate against any attempts by ISIS rebels to violate Israeli sovereignty. Thus Israel has managed to establish its deterrence.

In the South, the situation is much more complicated.

Israel can’t retaliate against ISIS attacks because it would infringe on its best friend’s territory and violate Egyptian sovereignty. Thus Israel has refrained of responding to the Islamic State attacks. ISIS recognizes this and is taking advantage of Israel in this regard.

One more important aspect that could shed light on the future is on whose orders ISIS has acted. Was it a decision initiated by a local commander? Or did the instructions come from ISIS headquarters in Syria and Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi, who despite many reports announcing his death is still alive and kicking, even given his group’s defeats on the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

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