An al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group active in the Sinai Peninsula says its fighters were the target of a rare Israeli drone strike into Egyptian territory on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, in a statement posted on a militant website Saturday, said that four of its members were killed in the Friday attack as they were preparing a cross-border rocket strike into Israel. It said the dead were from Egyptian Sinai tribes. The group said the rocket squad’s leader escaped.
Egyptian security officials speaking anonymously had initially said on Friday that a drone firing from the Israeli side of the border had killed five suspected militants. The conflicting death tolls could not be reconciled.
Later, an Egyptian military source denied that the Israeli air force had carried out any raids inside Egypt. The Egyptian military official said the Egyptian borders are a “red line.”
The Palestinian news agency Maan had quoted an Egyptian army source as saying that an Israeli plane targeted rocket launchers in an area in the Egyptian Rafah. The launchers were reportedly deployed on Thursday by Islamist militants.
Israel maintained official silence about the strike.