Egypt and Israel have a shared interest in the defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate. But when that offshoot—which calls itself Wilayat Sinai, or Sinai Province—is snuffed out, what happens next in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula is unclear, and the interests of these allies of convenience begin to diverge.
Since 2011, jihadi militants in Egypt’s North Sinai governorate, who declared their allegiance to the Islamic State in November 2014, have threatened the security of both Egypt and Israel. Before joining the Islamic State, one of the jihadis’ goals was driving a wedge between the two neighboring states. Through attacks on a gas pipeline, they forced the severance of an economic relationship. With a 2011 cross-border raid into southern Israel, they pushed diplomatic relations to the breaking point.
Sinai’s militants turned their fire on Egyptian targets in 2013, but the increased capabilities that came with Islamic State affiliation worried Israel and the broader international community. In 2015, Wilayat Sinai laid siege to the North Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid, targeted international peacekeepers, fired on an Egyptian vessel in the Mediterranean with an anti-tank missile, and downed a plane full of Russian tourists over the Sinai with an explosive device hidden in a soda can.