Egypt: Israeli drone strike on Sinai peninsula?

Egyptian militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed Aug. 10 that an air-strike that killed four of its fighters in the Sinai peninsula the previous day was carried out by an Israeli drone. But Egypt's military denied there had been any Israeli strikes in Egyptian territory, and later said its own aircraft had carried out the attack. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, with a following among the Sinai's Bedouin tribes, accused the Egyptian military of co-ordinating the attack with Israel. "Our heroes became martyrs during their jihadi duties against the Jews in a rocket attack on occupied lands," the group said in a statement. "How can the Egyptian army allow the Zionist unmanned planes to cross into Egyptian territory?" A motorcade funeral for the fallen fighters made its way through through several border towns in Sinai—with dozens of militants in pick-up trucks flying their black flag in defiance of the army. Egypt's armed forces have killed 60 jihadist fighters in the Sinai in the month since Mohamed Morsi was ousted.  (AFP, Al Jazeera, Aug. 10)

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Militants claim rocket attack on Eilat

At least one rocket was fired toward the southern Israeli city of Eilat Aug. 13. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one rocket, and authorities are searching the area for any additional strikes. Israeli authorities had moved an Iron Dome battery to Eilat in mid-July due to concerns regarding the situation in the Sinai peninsula.

The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), a consortium of jihadist groups based primarily in the Gaza Strip, took responsibility for the attack in a statement released to Internet forums. The MSC said it fired the Grad rocket in response to the recent killing of four members of the Sinai-based Ansar Jerusalem jihadist group. (Long War Journal, Aug. 13) Ansar Jerusalem would seem to be the same as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

Drone strike at issue in Cairo street clash

Thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi marched in Cairo on Aug. 13, under the banner of "Together against the Coup and the Zionists"—an apparent reference to claims of an Israeli drone strike on the Sinai. The march, organised by the Anti-Coup Alliance, concluded in front of the Ministry of the Interior. Eyewitnesses say local residents and vendors began to throw rocks and bottles at the marchers, sparking a clash that culminated in Central Security Forces intervening with armored vehicles and fire tear gas. (Daily News Egypt, Aug. 13)