Militant Islamists killed at least 15 Egyptian guards at the Karm Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom border crossing in the Sinai Peninsula Sunday, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort to enter Israel.
The attack took place around sunset, when the troops were having the traditional meal at the end of the Ramadan fast, Egyptian authorities said.
IDF Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo confirmed the report, and gave more information:
“After the fact, we learned that a group from the Sinai took control of an Egyptian military post, killed between 10 and 15 Egyptians, and stole two armored vehicles called Fahds.
At 8:05 P.M., one of the vehicles exploded at the Kerem Shalom crossing, and another breached the border fence and entered Israeli territory. A few moments later, we hit the vehicle from the air."
Here is video from the IDF's YouTube page, showing the IAF striking one of the vehicles after the first exploded:
Egyptian state TV said the Sunday attack was carried out by Islamist militants, and Israeli media suggests that Global Jihad, specifically, is responsible.
“It seems the attack was sudden and well-coordinated, using heavy arms,” Al Arabiya's correspondent Ahmad Bagato said.
Israeli army spokesman Afihai Adra'ei told Al Arbiya that attack was likely part of a larger plot.
The Jerusalem Post explains:
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai told reporters that the IDF was still searching the area to rule out the possibility that additional terrorists remained in Israel. Mordechai said that the IDF has ruled out the possibility that a soldier was kidnapped although it was possible that the attack was aimed at abducting a soldier. The IDF spokesman later said in an interview with Army Radio that at least three terrorists were killed during the infiltration attempt.
Israel is increasingly concerned with the presence of [Global Jihad] operatives in the Sinai Peninsula and their ties with Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi called an urgent meeting with his country's military council, saying the attackers "will pay dearly."
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak commented:
"IDF forces ... with the help of the Shin Bet, showed alertness, sharpness and versatility, and thwarted an attack may could have caused many casualties.
The operations of the assailants raise again the need for resolute Egyptian action to impose security and prevent terrorism in the Sinai."
It was one of the bloodiest attacks in Sinai in years, underlining the growing lawlessness of the Egyptian territory previously best-known for its Red Sea resorts and biblical history.
According to the Associated Press, security forces have become targets of militants, some linked with al-Qaida.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Sunday: "All those who intend to harm us should know our long arm will reach them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This post has been updated.