Egypt's Cyber-ops Against ISIS Jams Israeli Cellular Networks

In recent weeks the Egyptian military has been waging a major campaign against the Islamic State fighters in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

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Soldiers in military vehicles in Sinai, 2013.
Soldiers in military vehicles in Sinai, 2013.Credit: REUTERS
Yaniv Kubovich
The Associated Press

The Egyptian campaign against ISIS in Sinai is jamming Israeli cellular networks, the Israeli army confirmed on Wednesday.

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The Israeli military said that the cellular blackouts that have affected Israel's south in recent weeks are caused by electronic warfare waged by the Egyptian military in its campaign against ISIS.

The military said that it was aware of the disruptions in Israel, adding that it was working with the Egyptian army to solve the problem.

As part of the campaign against ISIS, the Egyptian air force uses specialized intelligence planes that take off from Cairo and fly for hours and around the clock near Israel's Sinai border. These planes carry out ISR operations (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and operate advanced electronic systems.

Egyptian Air Force B1900 (right) and U.S. registered ATR-42 operating against ISIS in Sinai Credit:

In light of Israeli army's confirmation, it is likely that the electronic warfare against ISIS's communication networks is also being waged from these planes.

Under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, Egypt has quietly cooperated with Israel on security in the Sinai, a desert peninsula demilitarised as part of their U.S.-sponsored 1979 peace treaty but where Cairo's forces now operate freely.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara told Army Radio earlier on Wednesday that Israeli defense and military officials met with their counterparts "over the border" and that cellular reception will soon be restored after a more than weeklong disruption.

Army Radio identified the foreign officials as Egyptian.

Kara said that "after the very important meeting yesterday over the border we managed to reach an understanding" that will end the cellular disruption in the coming days.

A source at one of the two Palestinian mobile phone companies said its services were disrupted for a day in the past week in southern Gaza but that the problem had been resolved.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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