Detecting the enemy in a very delicate situation – the dilemma in the Sinai Desert

It is a delicate job but it must be done. Israel is at peace with Egypt. It is a very cold peace and has become even colder since the revolution in Egypt.


The “Arab Spring” lowered the temperature between the two countries. The cold peace could have continued without any problem, but something very basic happened.


The Sinai Desert, an Egyptian territory, has become a no man’s land controlled by the worst Islamist terror groups.


Israeli sources say that Egyptian control of the vast desert is zero, in spite of some spectacular army operations that became possible after Israel allowed the Egyptian army to forward tanks into the area.


This approval was needed according to the military appendix of the peace treaty.

Only last week, terrorists from Sinai approached the border and opened fire. Before all of them were killed by Israeli soldiers, they managed to kill one.


Israel needs intelligence data from Sinai, but in spite of the fact that this is now the “Wild South”, of the Islamic terror, it cannot cross the border line to get it.


So intelligence must be obtained from a distance and the Israeli air force (IAF) is performing most of this task.


To do this, many oblique observation systems are operated .The Israeli defence industries have developed many systems that make this job a little easier.


Aerostats, oblique payloads carried by fighter aircraft, unmanned air systems flying along the border. All these create a persistent observation capability that gives a partial solution.


On 24 September, the Egyptian press reported that Israel had agreed to let the Egyptian air force use observation aircraft over the Sinai desert.


But again, when the enemy is hiding in a desert area that is 23,000 square miles, the problem is very big, especially when the hands of Israel are not free to even monitor, let alone react.


This is a unique situation that has been created in the past two years and it will force the Israeli defence industries to improve the very long-range observation capabilities of the IAF.


In the past, when a pressing need occurred, the solutions were amazing. One recent example is the Iron Dome system that defends Israeli citizens from rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.


It was developed and fielded in just over two years. All the experts say that in other places, where the solution is not crucial, it would have taken at least twice the time.


The new situation in the Sinai may result is some very advanced systems that will enable Israel to monitor the enemy hiding in a neighbouring country that has signed a peace treaty with Israel.

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