Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israeli Defense Forces are carefully following the activities of the branch of the Islamic State operating in the Sinai Peninsula and are prepared for any threat from that quarter, a senior IDF field officer said on Thursday.

The threat of the Islamic State on Israel's southern border "is of great concern to the army and influences our preparedness for any incident that might occur," Col. Arik Chen, deputy commander of the 80th Territorial Division, said yesterday in a briefing for reporters.

The IDF "knows the intentions and the abilities" of the Islamists in the Sinai and is prepared for any aggression, whether it is aimed at the Egyptian security forces or whether "it becomes a threat to Israel in the future," Chen said.

The number of casualties from attacks on Egyptian forces by the Sinai branch of the Islamic State has increased drastically since last September, he added.

The IDF follows the activities of the Sinai branch against the Egyptian security forces and is prepared for the eventuality that such attacks may be aimed at Israel as well.

"The scenario we have to deal with is a wide-scale attack against either our forces or civilians in the area, such as communities in the Nitzana area, Eilat or Route 12, where there have been incidents in the past," Chen said.

On Thursday, the Sinai branch of ISIS warned on Twitter of an attack on Israel with 150 rockets.

In 2014, 32 rockets were fired from Sinai into Israel, 30 of them during last summer's war in Gaza, according to data from the Shin Bet.

The group calling itself Ansar Bait al-Maqdis announced its allegiance to the Islamic State last year and is now regarded as the Sinai branch of the organization. The group is attempting to get its hands on sophisticated weaponry, including anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and explosives.