IS claims strike on Egypt-Israel gas pipeline; Israeli official said to deny it

The Islamic State terror group claimed Thursday that its forces had blown up a gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt.

blast hit the el-Arish al-Qantara natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported, citing testimony from witnesses and local Egyptian authorities.

IS claimed responsibility in a message on its Telegram channel, but did not provide any evidence.

There is no immediate acknowledgment of the claim by the Israeli military, but Channel 13 quoted a senior energy official denying the pipeline had been damaged in any way. The official said gas was continuing to flow from the pipeline without any problem.

Gunmen in Sinai have made similar claims about attacking pipelines in the past, including in February, which Israeli officials also denied.

The gas pipelines running through the Sinai Peninsula have long been a favorite target of jihadist groups in the restive region.

Dozens of attacks took place in the wake of the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, mostly targeting a pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel.

A 2014 bombing of a gas pipeline south of el-Arish by suspected al-Qaeda-inspired saboteurs sabotaged another pipeline — but it was carrying gas to Jordan, not Israel.

Israel later stopped importing gas from Egypt, partly due to soaring demands in Egypt and partly because the attacks made the supply unreliable.

And Israel’s discovery of massive natural gas reserves in its Mediterranean economic zone made imports unnecessary, turning the Jewish state into an energy exporter for the first time in its history.

Israel’s Leviathan field, discovered in 2010, is estimated to hold 535 billion cubic meters (18.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate. The Tamar field, which began production in 2013, has estimated reserves of up to 238 billion cubic meters (8.4 trillion cubic feet).

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