The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that an unarmed Egyptian drone was intercepted by Israeli warplanes over the southern Negev desert this week.
According to the army, the incident took place on Monday near Mount Sagi, located just a few kilometers from the border with Egypt. The Israeli military said the unmanned aircraft was put under surveillance as soon as it entered Israeli airspace.
The drone, which was operated by the Egyptian military to monitor Islamic State activity in the North Sinai Desert, apparently encountered technical problems that led to operators losing contact when it accidentally entered the Israeli Air Force, a source in the Ministry of Defense.
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The destruction of the plane was coordinated with Egypt, the source added. The Israeli military said the incident was under investigation.
The incident came at a time when the Israeli armed forces were on high alert following Iranian threats of retaliation for the death of a senior officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
The Army did not explain why it kept the incident secret for two days, but Army Radio mentioned possible Egyptian sensitivity to the problem.
Egypt is fighting an Islamic State-led uprising in Sinai, which escalated in 2013 following the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The terrorists have since carried out dozens of attacks, mainly targeting the Egyptian armed forces and Christians.
In 2018, it was reported that Israeli drones and aircraft or helicopter gunships had carried out more than 100 airstrikes against Islamic State-affiliated terrorists over the course of two years in the area near the Israeli border.
In May, Islamic State accused Israel of murdering a local jihadist group leader in an air strike.
Although security coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo is close, relations between the two countries are unpopular in Egypt despite thirty years of official peace. To keep the cooperation secret, the markings of Israeli planes are mostly hidden, and it is not uncommon for them to take indirect routes to hide the origin of the attacks, the official said. New York Times back then.
Both Israeli and Egyptian authorities have refused to confirm or comment on this information.