While the attack on the pipeline was one the first in many years, its timing suggests that security concerns underline any energy agreement.

On a Sunday last week, militants blew up a section of the recently inaugurated gas pipeline linking Israel and Egypt. The pipeline marked a reversal of roles between the two countries as Israel is now supplying Egypt with gas. 

The attack was reminiscent of a spate of such occurrences in the aftermath of the Arab Spring which spiked shortly after Egypt's late president Mohammed Morsi was deposed from power in a coup in 2013 and continued until 2014. 

A terrorist group affiliated with Daesh claimed the attack was aimed at disrupting relations between the two countries. 

There are, however, conflicting reports about whether the pipeline connecting Israel's newly inaugurated Leviathan field, which started supplying gas to Egypt on January 6, or a domestic pipeline was impacted.

"The situation now is much different than it was in 2011-2014 during the height of the attacks against the pipeline," says Oded Berkowitz, an Israeli intelligence analyst, speaking to TRT World. 

The Wilayat Sinai, the militant group behind the attack was formed shortly after the former authoritarian Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was deposed. The militant group allied with local tribes in the vast region which borders Israel and kicked out Egyptian security forces resulting in a low-level insurgency in the region.

Many of the local tribes have grievances against the Egyptian state, which they feel has left them economically deprived or treated them harshly. It was not until 2014 that the extremist group decided to pledge allegiance to Daesh.

While the gas pipelines connecting Israel and Egypt overlap with the militant group's area of operation, "the level of the security vacuum and militant activity of those years [2011-14] cannot be compared to today," says Berkowitz who is also the Deputy Director of Intelligence at MAX Security.

"It's also unclear if the latest attack targeted this specific pipeline or a different one, but in any case, it shows that the threat to strategic infrastructure, particularly pipelines that are more difficult to secure due to their length, still exists," added Berkowitz.

Yossi Abu, Chief Executive of Israel's Delek Drilling, which has a stake in the Leviathan gas field and the pipeline transporting gas to Egypt, said that there was a "very significant security system" in place to protect the pipeline adding "we are not blind to the risk and are prepared for every scenario".

Energy deals between Israel and its neighbours Egypt and Jordan have proved controversial.

In 2012, it emerged that Egypt had allegedly been selling gas to Israel since 2005 at below-market prices potentially resulting in the loss of more than $700 million of revenue for Egyptian taxpayers, a claim Israel denied.

Since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi seized power in a bloody coup in 2013, relations between Israel and Egypt have warmed. Cairo itself is sitting on significant gas reserves, even as it's now buying gas from Israel which some have criticised

The Israeli-Egyptian energy deal also deals in part with the earlier cancellation by Cairo of its gas deal with its neighbour and reducing potential liability.

Jordan, the only other country in the region to recognise Israel, recently passed a draft law in parliament to ban the sale of Israeli gas. The deal was signed in 2016. However, the agreement has proved controversial with many lawmakers and protesters arguing that the country will not become dependent on Israel. 

The Wilayat Sinai militant group between 2014 and 2018 has claimed more than 955 attacks in Peninsula. One of the most high profile attacks by the militant group was against a Russian plane carrying tourists. The attack rocked Egypt’s tourist industry, deepening the countries economic woes.

Source: TRT World