Sources inform "Globes" that the Egyptian army suspects that ISIS cells in Sinai are using SIM cards from Israeli mobile phone companies. This is making it difficult for the Egyptian army to locate ISIS forces. Consequently, the Egyptian army has decided to combat this phenomenon by knocking out Israel's cellular networks in the region.
Among other things, the Egyptians are concerned that ISIS will detonate roadside charges remotely using mobile telephones. One Israeli government source told "Globes" that knocking out Israel's cellular networks is like "flying into Israeli airspace in order to fight ISIS."
The aggressive actions of the Egyptian army are in effect violating Israeli sovereignty and the State of Israel remains silent, senior Israeli government sources have told "Globes" following the interference of Israel's cellular phone networks.
The story began on February 21 when the Egyptian army began bombarding Israeli cellular sites as part of its war against ISIS in the Sinai peninsula. The blocking operations by the Egyptian army have affected Israeli cellular antennae along the Egyptian border and consequently 300,000 Israeli subscribers living near the Egyptian border have disruptions in or no mobile phone services at all.
An investigation by "Globes" found that in contradiction to statements to the public by the Ministry of Communications and other government spokespeople that the disturbances in the south are due to screening of Egyptian cellular networks by the Egyptian army, the real reason is something completely different. The Egyptian army is using technological means intentionally aimed at Israel's cellular networks. Israel knows about this and is doing nothing to prevent it.
The Defense minister's office is involved
The Egyptian actions have far reaching effects. Israeli defense sources say that the current situation could have dire consequences, if for example there was a major emergency situation near the border with the Gaza strip. At present the cellular networks around the Gaza strip are not operating.
As far as is known Israel Ministry of Defense is working with the Egyptians on the matter and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been informed about the problem. Government sources told "Globes" that the Minister of Defense's office is holding talks with the Egyptian government but at this stage the talks have not borne fruit.
Israel's mobile phone operators say that there is no technological solution to the attacks by the Egyptian army on their networks and efforts are concentrated on getting the Egyptians to halt those attacks.
Residents of the Gaza strip are also suffering from disruptions in their mobile phone services.
The IDF spokesman said, "Regarding claims about disturbances in mobile phone reception in the south, the disturbances are a result of Egyptian army operations in Egyptian territory. The issue is being dealt with."
No response could be obtained from Israel's Ministry of Defense.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 13, 2018
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018