Egyptian counter-terror operation jams Israeli cellular service

Cairo’s latest push against Islamic terrorists in the Sinai has meant two weeks of cellphone outages for residents of Israel.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli residents in southern Israel, and especially those in the communities around the Gaza Strip, are angered and concerned about the prolonged cellphone outages they have been experiencing as a result of Egyptian efforts to fight terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.

All cellphone providers have been affected, and on Wednesday, Gadi Yarkoni, head of the Eshkol Regional Council that borders Gaza, sent a warning letter threatening to sue if the problem isn’t fixed.

“Lack of response and failure to deal with the malfunction so far by the cellular companies and the Ministry of Communications shows scorn for the residents of the Gaza vicinity who are carrying on their daily routine under constant security threat,” the letter noted. “Disruptions in communications here in the area are life-threatening.”

The electronic warfare is reaching further than the Eshkol region, however.

“We’ve never seen anything this intensive or protracted. Even the Palestinians have been coming to us, appealing to make it stop,” one Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The official added that phones had been disrupted as far away as Jerusalem and northern Israel, depending on weather conditions.

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Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara went on Army Radio Wednesday to reassure residents that the government is on top of the issue. He noted that “a very important meeting” had taken place in Egypt the day before, in which, he said, “We’ve managed to reach agreements that will end the disruptions” within a couple of days.

Egypt has been struggling with ISIS terrorist attacks originating in the northern and central Sinai region for several years, with hundreds of civilians and security personnel being killed. The latest, and so far worst, mass atrocity took place in November 2017, when more than 300 worshippers were murdered in a mosque west of Al-Arish.

In reaction, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered his military to defeat the enemy within three months – and a huge offensive was launched on February 9. The phone jamming to disrupt the terrorists’ communications began on February 21.