Armed terrorists infiltrated Israel from the Sinai Peninsula early Monday morning and set up a roadside ambush of Israeli civilian contractors engaged in constructing a security fence whose purpose is to keep out armed militants. Quoting IDF sources, Israel’s Channel 2 News and Ynet report the terror cell most likely originated in Gaza, infiltrated into Egypt and then ambushed the contractors by setting off a roadside bomb, firing a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms. The incident took place at around 6:00 am.
One Israeli contractor was killed, and the IDF Spokesman’s office reports two terrorists were killed by troops deployed to the area. It also tweeted "the terrorists were carrying large amount of explosives, grenades and light weapons, as well as camo uniforms and helmets."
Nir Dvori, Channel 2 News’ Military Affairs Correspondent reports that following the attack Israeli soldiers conducted patrols on foot, with the backup of search helicopters, combing the area in pursuit of more perpetrators. Roads were closed, and roadblocks were quickly erected. Residents were told to stay in their homes, and school buses were diverted off the roads and instructed to find shelter in the nearest communities.
The head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council Shmulik Ripman told Israel Army radio that six communities are situated within 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the border. The incident occurred not far from the Israeli town Nitzana and some 18 miles from the Gaza Strip.
As a result of this and other recent violence originating in the Sinai, the IDF made the unusual move on Monday to position tanks closer to the border with Egypt, according to Ynet.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak in response said Israel expects the new Egyptian president to secure control of the Sinai Peninsula and to clear it of terrorism. The Jerusalem Post quoted Barak at a meeting with the Polish defense minister:
"We expect the president to take responsibility for all of Egypt's international commitments including the peace treaty with Israel and to ensure security arrangements are in place in the Sinai to stop these kind of attacks," Barak said ...
Similar to the challenge facing law enforcers along the U.S. border with Mexico, a complicating challenge for Israeli security forces is that they cannot cross the border into Egypt in pursuit of terrorists and have to rely on local Egyptian security officials who have not always proved able to prevent cross-border attacks.
An Israeli security source told Channel 2 News: “No doubt the incident this morning shows the smugglers’ distress about the accelerated progress of the fence construction. They don’t want it to happen and they’re hysterical over it.” Defense sources insist many resources are invested in protecting the workers.
The AP reports:
The incident underscored the Egyptian government's increasing loss of control over the Sinai, where political turmoil, weak policing and difficult terrain have encouraged Islamic militant activity.
Israel had been bracing for possible attacks from the area after rockets believed fired from Sinai struck southern Israel over the weekend.
As The Blaze reported on Sunday, tension has been high along the Egypt-Israel border. The newspaper Ha’aretz reported Israeli security officials believe the Muslim Brotherhood ordered the launching of Grad rockets into southern Israel, north of Eilat on Friday, purportedly as a way to galvanize its base leading up to elections this past weekend. The IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio it had no conclusive proof Monday’s border attack was related to the Grad launching.
Additionally, Egyptian security forces rounded up 22 Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian terrorists in the Sinai whose planned attacks were reportedly intended to create volatility around the election period. Hamas denied it was a part of these plans.
Last August, a deadly terror attack on vacationers and soldiers in Eilat was perpetrated by gunman who entered from the Sinai, killing eight Israelis. That attack was carried out jointly by local Sinai Islamist extremists and Palestinian “Popular Resistance Committees,” with no reported Muslim Brotherhood connection.