Israeli airstrikes targeting Egypt's jihadis in secret alliance with Cairo

Refaai denied the authenticity of the report, saying that the Egyptian army is the sole entity that is conducting military operations in co-operation with local police forces in certain areas in North Sinai.

While security coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo is known to be close, the ties are still unpopular in Egypt, despite almost three decades of peace. "Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe", said the paper.

In order to cover their traces, when flying over Egyptian airspace, Israel only uses unmarked drones and ensures that its Israeli jets and helicopters cover up their markings.

The airstrikes are being conducted with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's approval, The Times added.

Similarly, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) would not specifically address The New York Times report but told Reshet Bet public radio in an interview on Sunday morning, "ISIS has been active in Sinai for a long time, and ISIS is also a threat against Israel".

Egypt's military and security forces have been waging a tough and costly campaign against jihadists in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai.

Israel began the airstrikes after a Russian plane was shot down by terrorists over Sinai in October 2014, the report said.

In the wake of the Israeli strikes, the Islamists slowed their advance and switched their attention to softer targets, like attacking mosques and churches, the report said.

Apart from Jordan, Egypt is the only Arab country, which is in a peace agreement with Israel. There are reports of several groups involved in terror activities in Sinai Peninsula.

The report claimed that Israel launched air strikes that targeted IS stationing points in North Sinai in coordination with Egypt as part of a secret military co-operation operation between the two countries. "Israel's military was already propping up Egypt's military, he said, according to the Americans".

  • Rogelio Becker