Jerusalem, Aug. 6 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday toured the area where terrorists blew their way in to Israel the night before, saying quick reaction by Israeli forces foiled “a very major terrorist attack.”
“I would also like to express regret over the killing of the Egyptian soldiers,” Netanyahu said. “I think that it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in maintaining a quiet border.”
Islamic terrorists attacked an Egyptian security post, killing at least 16 officers and stealing a truck and an armored personnel carrier. They loaded the truck with explosives and used it to blow out the border fence before driving the APC into Israel where it was intercepted and destroyed. The terrorists were heavily armed with machine guns and suicide bomb vests.
“There is no doubt that if they had entered a town here or an army bases by surprise, they could have caused very serious damage,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. “I hope this will be a wake-up call to Egypt on the need to be sharp and efficient on their side. The struggle here is the along the entire border ... as well as the border around the Gaza Strip, against the continuing intentions of terrorists to harm us.”
The collapse of the Mubarak government in Cairo in 2011 exacerbated a decline in control over the Sinai Peninsula, allowing terrorist groups to move in and stage numerous attacks against both Israeli and Egyptian targets. Both Israel and the U.S. State Department issued warnings before Sunday’s attack that were not taken seriously by Egyptian officials.
The former Israeli army commander of the Israel-Egypt border area called on the Egyptians not to sweep the Sinai problems under the rug.
“On the ground there is good connection between Israeli and Egyptian (army) commanders,” Dan Harel told reporters in a telephone briefing organized by The Israel Project. “The aggressiveness of the attack against the Egyptian policemen … emphasizes the need of the Egyptians to take control of what is going on in the Sinai.”