Fierce clashes between Egyptian security forces and an ISIS-affiliate, Sinai Province, have been occurring in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula since the group launched a major offensive Wednesday. The launch of the rockets into Israeli territory appeared to be linked to this offensive. An Israeli military source earlier said the rockets had been fired from Sinai, which borders Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal. Israeli police said they had so far found remnants of two rockets in an open area. No damage or casualties were reported.
Dozens of people have been killed in the past few days of clashes and air strikes in the desert region. Egyptian security sources earlier have stated they are investigating the incident, but thus far been unable to find any direct evidence the rockets came from Egyptian territory. Armed groups, including Sinai Province have fired rockets into Israel from Sinai on several occasions in the past. Israel has accused Hamas, the Palestinians group that controls Gaza, of helping ISIS in Sinai, an allegation Hamas denies.
An Egyptian security source said some Hamas members were involved in the Sinai battles, but that there were no wider organizational ties between the groups. Hamas, a group that seized power in Gaza in 2007, has faced its own threats from ISIS-linked groups. On Tuesday, ISIS released a video threatening Hamas and vowing to turn Gaza into another “fiefdom,” as in parts of Iraq and Syria. It also said in the video that it will uproot “the state of the Jews” and secular Palestinian movement Fatah, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
What is most interesting about this attack is that it purportedly came from an ISIS-linked organization. ISIS has been noted for avoiding direct confrontation with Israel since it began seizing large swathes of territory throughout the Middle East last year. Ideologically, they view Israel as the ‘final battle’ and see “cleansing” the Islamic world as their first priority before the final confrontation with Israel is made. Often times we see these smaller terrorist cells, sometimes more radical and less organized, striking out in ways that contrast starkly from their parent organizations.