IDF preparing for scenario in which hundreds of ISIS terrorists try to attck Israel from the Sinai Peninsula
Brigade commander, Col. Yehuda Hacohen finishes his term on the Egyptian border where the agriculture is flourishing and a dangerous enemy sits on the other side of the border.
This week Col. Yehuda HaCohen will be wrapping up his service as commander of the Sagi Brigade.
HaCohen worked for the last two years to prepare the brigade for scenarios that the IDF had never even thought of before.
The Sagi Brigade sits on a 170 kilometer stretch watching over the Israeli-Sinai border. Under the Red Division, positioned in the Southern command, the brigade is responsible for watching over the western Negev.
The Division, named after Mount Sagi, was established in 2007 after Israel saw an increase in infiltration and smuggling from the Sinai.
For the past two years the division has seen a new threat coming from the Sinai, the global terrorist organization Islamic State, which has turned the area into a complex security challenge.
In the days before he says his goodbyes to the brigade and begins his studies at the National Security College, HaCohen met with The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Ma’ariv at an observation post on the Egyptian border.
In the heart of the seemingly calm and quiet desert sits the world’s most brutal terror organization. No one has any doubts, an attack could occur at any moment.
In the Gaza Division lie five communities, most of their resident’s farmers, some work in tourism. Though the Egyptian side of the border can barely raise a grain of wheat, the Israeli side is flourishing in agriculture and boutique wine.
The Holot Detention center housing thousands of migrants is also situated within the borders of the division.
“When you look at the Sinai you can see the settlements are mainly near water sources,” explained Hacohen.
“Where there is water, there are people. What is amazing is that the Sinai never really interested the Egyptians. Egypt has 90 million residents, here there are about 350 thousand Bedouins, and the Egyptians have already spent their limited resources on Egypt itself.”
“The Sinai began to interest Egypt when we arrived and began developing it, suddenly they saw that the Sinai can be a great resource,” he added.
Half of the Sinai is often considered a problem area.
“The area was created without sovereignty, and an area without a government isa breeding ground for terror,” Hacohen posited.
“Al-Qaida brought terror to the Sinai and then there were a few small terrorist organizations, the biggest of which being Ansar Beit al- Maqdis, responsible for rocket attacks on Eilat, which they have targeted for years, trying to harm what they viewed as infidels of faith… they do not care how we live, they only cared to sanctify their ideology.”
“In the past year and a half their methods have changed. People brought the Islamic State’s ideologies to the Sinai. The concept has changed, they aren’t just about attacking us. Now they first are looking to take care of what they consider infidels among them, and then those on the other side,” HaCohen noted.
“ISIS has set out first to purify themselves while expanding their territory. They act as if they are in the Middle Ages. They occupy territories and publicly behead those who don’t join, the rest automatically join.”
“They control lots of resources such as gas and they traffic people. They sell people into slavery, buying weapons with the money,” he added.
Waiting for the F-35
People began to notice the group’s presence in the Sinai after they downed a Russian passenger jet using a soda can full of explosives. ISIS claimed the attack shortly thereafter, and Egypt’s fears of the organization were soon realized.
Hacohen recalled that only recently they began to understand what ISIS is and to see their weak points.
“ISIS has started to work in Western countries. What they need to understand with us is that soon we will have the F-35, putting an end to all their fantasies,” HaCohen stated confidently.
Hacohen continued, “From the moment that we are no longer their goal they began to intensify their activity. In numbers they aren’t big, only about 1,000 members, but there are attacks against Egypt almost daily. The Egyptians are actively working against them but they are still succeeding in larger attacks. ”
HaChoen continued: “We aren’t only watching and analyzing them, we are preparing out troops. This isn’t like the stabbings
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