Saturday, August 10, 2013

Israeli Predator Drone Strike In Sinai Kills 4 Jihadis

An Israeli army Heron TP drone, also known locally as the Eitan Photo: AP

When is the last time you saw Holger put up a story about an Israeli drone strike?  Like never?  Yes, never.

This is the first report I have ever run across that could be substantiated where the Israelis actually used a drone to conduct a jihadi killing strike.

And a nice, successful one it was ...killing for Islamic terrorists out in the Sinai.

This is only a hunch on my part but I think the Israelis are dealing with terrorists now who have longer and longer range rockets that can be launched into Israel from greater distances and this is forcing the use of drones - back in the old days, Hamas or Islamic Jihad had to nearly get on top of the Israeli border to have the range to hit population and those rocket crews were easily combatted with attack helicopters and ground forces.

The story comes from The Telegraph.

Four suspected militants killed in Israeli drone strike in Egypt

Although reports of Israeli drone use over Sinai have surfaced in the past, this is the first to come with official acknowledgement.

In a statement on its website, the jihadist Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group confirmed that its militants had been the target of the Friday strike. It listed the name of four fighters who had been killed. They are all identified as Sinai residents.

The group was targeted as they prepared to fire rockets into Israel, said the statement. They said that the mission’s leader had escaped.

Residents report hearing a large explosion around the time of the alleged attack. An Egyptian army spokesman also confirmed that two explosions were heard at around 4:15pm (1415 GMT) in the Al-Ojra area, 3km from the border with Israel.

Security officials said that the attack had taken place with the consent of the Egyptian authorities, Reuters and the Associated Press reported. If true, this level of cooperation would be a departure from that experienced under the rule of President Mohamed Morsi, ousted during a military takeover last month.

The Egyptian military were believed to have grown frustrated at the Islamist president’s inability or unwillingness to crackdown on rising levels of military in the restive border area between Egypt and Israel.

But an Egyptian army spokesman denied that the strike took place with Egyptian consent. "Our borders and airspace are a red line," said Colonel Ahmed Ali in a statement. "They shall never be crossed." Israeli crafts are believed to have entered Egyptian airspace at least six times since 2006.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Ali also described the reported death toll as “inaccurate”, saying that reconnaissance teams combing the area have only found one charred body and a motorcycle.

The strike is believed to be linked to 'security concerns' which prompted the Israeli authorities to close its southernmost airport, Eliat, for two hours on Thursday.

Sinai-based militants have overseen a sharp uptick in violence since Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, escalating attacks in the area. On Wednesday, Egypt’s army reported that it had killed 60 militants in the space of a month, responding to widening “terrorist operations” that “threaten Egyptian national security”.

Successive Egyptian governments have viewed Sinai peninsula as a security threat while ignoring its wider development needs. The region remains an underdeveloped desert, lacking basic services and infrastructure.

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