News24

Militants attack Israel from Egypt

2012-06-18 19:10

Jerusalem - Militants crossed from Egypt's turbulent Sinai desert into southern Israel on Monday and opened fire, killing an Israeli worker, defence officials said. Two assailants were shot dead in a gun battle with Israeli troops responding to the ambush.

The Israeli was in a crew building a fence along the porous desert border.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which underscored the growing lawlessness in the Sinai desert since  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising last year.

Military spokesperson Lt Col Avital Leibovich said the assailants have not been identified but said defense officials suspect Palestinian militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip might have been involved. Southern Gaza borders Sinai, and infiltrators can exit Gaza through tunnels under the border.

Several hours after the attack, an Israeli air strike killed two men on a motorcycle in the northern Gaza Strip near the Israeli border. The Islamic Jihad said the men were members on a "reconnaissance" mission and vowed revenge.

Israeli military officials said the incident was not connected to the earlier infiltration from Egypt.

The mountainous Sinai desert harbours an array of militant groups, including Palestinian extremists and al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, Egyptian and Israeli security officials say.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio that there has been "a worrisome deterioration of Egyptian control" over the Sinai.

Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, a former defence minister and military chief, said he hoped Israel could conduct a security dialogue with the Egyptians and demand more forceful policing in the Sinai.

Rockets

"No doubt Sinai has become a security problem," Mofaz told Army Radio. "[Monday's] incident ratchets it up a notch."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack targeted civilians building the security fence. "Its construction is a paramount national interest," Netanyahu declared.

There was no immediate comment from Egypt on the attack.

Israel stepped up construction of a security fence along the 230km border with Egypt in a bid to keep out both militants and illegal migrants from Africa. The government has said it expects the fence to be completed by the end of the year.

In Monday's attack, two civilian vehicles carrying construction workers were driving toward the security fence when militants activated a roadside bomb and opened light arms and anti-tank fire at them, Leibovich said.

One of the vehicles was struck and turned over into a nearby ditch, killing a worker, she said. Israeli troops rushed to the area and engaged in a gun battle with the militants. One militant, who was carrying a large explosive device, blew up. Another militant, and possibly two others, were also killed, but others may have escaped back into Egypt, she said.

There was no word on their identities or membership in any of a wide range of armed groups.

Leibovich said Israelis living in five small communities in the area were instructed to lock themselves inside their homes, and two major southern roads were closed to civilian traffic while troops scoured the area for other militants. The military later concluded no other gunmen were in the area.

Calm shattered

Two rockets believed fired from Sinai struck southern Israel over the weekend, though Leibovich said it was unclear whether the two events were related.

In the most serious incident in recent years, gunmen from Sinai infiltrated Israel and ambushed vehicles on a desert highway last August, killing eight Israelis. Six Egyptian soldiers were killed during Israel's hunt for the militants, causing a diplomatic crisis between the two neighbours that ended with an Israeli apology.

That attack shattered decades of calm along the frontier area, prompting officials on both sides of the border to examine security arrangements and pushing Israel to speed up construction of the border fence.

As part of its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israel agreed to return the Sinai, captured in the 1967 Mideast war, but insisted the desert triangle separating Asia from Africa be significantly demilitarised.

As the frontier area grew more volatile following Mubarak's ousting, Israel allowed thousands more Egyptian troops to police the area and has beefed up its own military deployment along the border.

Comments
  • Andre - 2012-06-18 19:36

    God's Word (Scriptures) is very clear: "I (GOD-JHWH) will bless them that bless Israel and I will curse them that curse you". Those attacking Israel are doing so at their own peril. For it is written!

      bj.pieman - 2012-06-18 19:53

      In the religious text used in Egypt it says something completely different, so your argument is pointless. If there was no religion there would be no 'holy wars' and such garbage.

      jason.jaded.1 - 2012-06-18 20:18

      You are so right, André, however Dr. Seuss is even more clear in his scriptures: "I do not like green eggs and ham I do not like them Sam-I-Am." For it is also written!

      anneck.cranke - 2012-06-18 21:00

      Andre, Ezekiel chapter 36: Exact prediction of what is happening today; the whole world will scorn Israel, God says he will put scorn on those who put scorn on Israel... Mr. Edwards, Mr Pieman and Jason, you may not be of the religious types, however, find a Bible and read the book of Ezekiel. Then you will come to understand why religion has everything to do with this conflict and why Christians stand with Israel!

      dave.kofang - 2012-06-19 03:25

      If the scriptures are encouraging impunity on the Israelis,then those scriptures are wrong.

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-21 05:44

      @ andre vandeventer. your scripture the bible, make mention of ISRAELITES'' not ISRAELIS, the latter are jews who follow Judaism are are therefore people of the Torah NOT the Bible. I urge you to read my prayer that i posted on hannes vanwyk's post which he subsequently deleted! See prayer under my post!

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-21 06:13

      @ anneck. Are you reading from a copy of the ''american bible'. And regarding your statement 'therefore christians are standing with israel' you speak for yourself and a minority of you , christianity does not condone 'idol worshipping' . Read and understand you bible in its proper and full context!

  • jason.jaded.1 - 2012-06-18 21:55

    My apologies, Anneck. I just couldn't help myself. Pointing out that others can also quote irrational works and interpretation of literature, just proved too much of a 'temptation'. The 'Scriptures' are are filled with these kinds of 'predictions', while interpretations of such predictions have been thrown around with reckless abandon for millennia, but what generally transpires is that these predictions turn out to be man-made manifestations to suit the purposes and agendas of politicians or leaders of the time, be it for religion, dominance, politics, war, profit and most of the other aspirations that the very scriptures they quote, speak against. Modern Israel (or Medinat Yisrael) was so named in 1948 upon its independence and was one of a number of names, including Zion and Judea, that were put forward, this can be regarded as a man-made fulfillment of biblical prophecy. I think that you would find that had freedom fighters in South Africa chosen the name of Israel after their new-found independence in 1910 from colonial United Kingdom (or in 1931 from the British Empire), you would hardly have religious types pounding on their Torah/Bible and quoting Ezekiel Chapter 36, whilst warning of God's scorn for those (including the world) who put scorn on "Israel" (read South Africa) circa 1948-1994. I have read the bible and can honestly say that I prefer Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion' when it comes to literature on divinity, prophecy and creation...

      cameronrh1 - 2012-06-19 11:23

      The bible is one big history book on its own, and geographical map... your total lack of these 2 concepts proves your ignorance regarding Israel and as a result your argument flawed.

  • rude.awakning - 2012-06-20 22:43

    hannes vanwyk, so i see you had a change of heart! In the absence of an explanation, i take it that you retracted (by deleting your post) your prayer for ''GOD to send his angels to fight for israelis'' if any one recalls or have a copy of the prayer that i added to that post, please put it as a comment here.

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-21 05:29

      Rudiwaan thnx for the email in response to my request. Here is my prayer as deleted by hannes vanwyk: '' HEMELSE VADER, EK BID DAT U ALLE MENSE BESKERM VAN VERDRIET! DAT HULLE GOED SAAM LEWE AS BURE, DAT HULLE NIE BAKLEI OOR LAND WAT NIE AAN HULLE BEHOORT NIE! DAT HULLE KERK TOE KOM OM GERED TE WORD, PLEKS VAN 'N GOUE LAMMERTJIE AANBID, OMDAT DIT NIE GRISTELIK IS NIE, IS HULLE DIE VYAND VAN GRISTENE DIE WERLD OOR! AMEN!

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-21 05:32

      the offer to translate the above to english, if required still stands!

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