Israel OKs larger Egyptian force to fight jihadis

Uriel Heilman

(JTA) – Israel has reportedly given Egypt the green light to use advanced military force against Islamic militants in the Sinai and has closed a southern Israeli highway as a precaution.

Militants in the Sinai Peninsula affiliated with the Islamic State mounted coordinated attacks on Wednesday that left dozens of Egyptian soldiers dead, Egyptian media reported. Though the peace accord between Israel and Egypt limits the type of weaponry allowed into the Sinai, Israel has continued to waive those limitations to give Egyptian forces a free hand in fighting back against the jihadis, according to an anonymous Israeli official quoted in the Times of Israel.

Egypt has used F-16 warplanes and helicopters.

Israeli Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Al Jazeera that Hamas is supporting the militants in the Sinai.

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Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Forces announced Thursday that Route 12, a highway near the Israeli-Egyptian border, would be closed temporarily beginning Friday morning.

Fighting in the Sinai continues between Egyptian forces and the militants, with more than 100 militants reported killed since Wednesday, according to Egyptian media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences Thursday to “the Egyptian government and the families of those who were killed in battle with the cruel terror.”

He said, “We see in front of our eyes ISIS acting with extraordinary cruelty both in our northern border and at our southern border.”

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