The Egyptian army is jamming cellular networks in southern Israel, causing disruptions to some 300,000 residents, as it is suspected that Islamic State fighters are using Israeli SIM cards to communicate with each other in the Sinai Peninsula.
By using Israeli SIM cards—as opposed to Egyptian ones—jihadists have been able to evade Egyptian forces, who have been waging a counter-insurgency against the terrorists in the largely lawless territory for over five years. In December, the local Islamic State affiliate—known as Sinai Province—claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian church south of Cairo that killed at least nine people.
That assault came a month after ISIS killed 311 worshipers at a Sinai mosque, the deadliest attack on civilians in Egypt’s modern history. When queried, the Israeli military conceded that the disruptions are being caused by the Egyptian army in Egyptian territory and noted that “the issue is being dealt with.” Cairo and Jerusalem have been closely coordinating their military operations against Sinai Province, with Israel reportedly having conducted some 100 strikes in the Peninsula in support of Egyptian troops.
The Israeli government has also green-lighted Egypt to up its military presence in the vast desert region in contravention of the 1979 peace accord between the two countries.