Wilayat Sinai: The Other Terrorist Group Abutting Israel

The sole Jewish State is unique in many ways. One situation that causes constant strain is that it is surrounded by armed terrorist groups.

To the north is Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to recent reports, the Iranian-backed terrorist group “currently possesses between 120,000-140,000 short-range rockets (range of 25-28 miles), which cover Israel’s north, including Haifa Bay and Tiberias; several thousand medium-range rockets (range of 56 miles), which can reach the Sharon coastal plain and northern suburbs of Gush Dan; and several hundred long-range rockets and missiles (range of hundreds of miles), including Scud missiles from Syrian military warehouses, capable of hitting targets anywhere in Israel.

To the west is the terrorist enclave of Gaza. The terrorist group Hamas has launched several wars against Israel since taking over the region.

In the east, Israel has to face Hamas as well, which has significant support in Areas A and B of the West Bank. Palestinians maintain that the best way of dealing with Israel is through armed conflict, and support a number of Palestinian terrorist groups which operate both west and east of Israel including: Palestine Liberation Front (PLF); Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC); Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB); and Army of Islam (AOI).

To the south, there is another terrorist group that operates out of the Sinai Peninsula called Wilayat Sinai, or ISIS in the Sinai. They have been fighting both Egypt and Israel.

Israel is surrounded by terrorist groups and state sponsors of terrorism

Wilayat Sinai

Wilayat Sinai began in 2011 around the time of the “Arab Spring” under the name Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, before pledging its allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014 as that group was gaining prominence and then change its name. Like many of the terrorist groups in the region, it’s banner is jihad and the imposition of Islamic Sharia law throughout the region.

Wilayat’s main target is the Egyptian government which is viewed as too secular. Not only did Egypt make peace with Israel, but it actively opposes the Muslim Brotherhood.

The group stepped up its attacks against Egypt in 2014 when Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ascended to power after forcing out Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. With the support of Israel, al-Sisi began to clamp down on the smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza which were instrumental in the Hamas war against Israel in that year. Israel would go on to allow Egypt to expand its military presence in the Sinai, above the limits set in place by the 1979 Peace Agreement. By 2018, 42,000 Egyptian soldiers were in the Sinai.

In February of that year, al-Sisi launched an aggressive “Operation Sinai 2018” campaign against Wilayat Sinai with Israeli support. The actions severely curtailed the groups ability to operate.

The attacks have not been limited to Egypt. In 2015, the group downed a Russian civilian airplane killing 224 because of Russian attacks against ISIS in Syria.

In 2011, attackers from Sinai – including some terrorists from Gaza – shot and killed Israelis near the resort city of Eilat. In 2012, rockets were fired into Eilat and later that year armed men from Hamas and Wilayat Sinai killed Egyptian soldiers and attacked Israeli Defense Forces at the Kerem Shalom Crossing near Gaza. The group would fire more rockets into Israel in 2017.

While Hamas gets most of the attention because of its vile anti-Semitic foundational charter and persistent attacks against Israel, the Jewish State is completely surrounded by terrorist groups and state sponsors of terrorism. While each has a different take on the goals of imposing Sharia law and establishing a caliphate, they all seek a purely Islamic region and an end to the Jewish State.

Related articles:

Israel: Security in a Small Country

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

Hamas’s Willing Executioners

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

The Banners of Jihad

Some Global Supporters of the P5+1 Iran Deal