Terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula opened fire on IDF soldiers on the Israeli-Egyptian border on Friday,
killing one soldier and wounding a second, before the gunmen were killed in
Twenty-year-old Netanel Yahalomi, of the IDF Artillery
Corps, was shot in the head as he and his unit were giving water to African
migrants who had arrived on the border.
Shots were fired at IDF Artillery
Corps and Karkal (Wildcat) battalion – an infantry force made up of male and
female combat soldiers – from a distance of 100 meters. The soldiers instantly
returned fire, shooting dead two terrorists, said IDF spokesman Brig-Gen. Yoav
Mordechai. One of the terrorists was shot by a female Karkal battalion
A group of Border Patrol undercover soldiers also responded to
the incident, giving chase and killing the third, the Border Patrol
In the heavy exchanges of fire, a suicide bomb belt around one of
the terrorists went off. Shrapnel from that blast lightly injured a soldier from
the Artillery Corps. One of the terrorists attempted to approach the soldiers,
apparently intending to set off explosives. He was shot dead before he could come near them.
Yahalomi and the lightly
injured soldier were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where
doctors battled to save Yahalomi’s life.
Yahalomi succumbed to his
injuries soon after arrival.
“The IDF stopped a very big terrorist
attack,” Mordechai said. “The terrorists planned on going on a killing spree,
either inside Israel or along the border.”
IDF sappers recovered a large
number of firearms and explosives from the terrorists after the incident,
including an RPD machine gun, three rocket- propelled grenade launchers,
Kalashnikov guns, ammunition, grenades, a second suicide bomb belt and personal
equipment. The terrorists were dressed in civilian clothing.
occurred along a 17-km. stretch of the border where the fence has not yet
been completed, in the Har Harif area.
“We don’t believe this was a
kidnapping attempt,” Mordechai added.
OC Southern Command
Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo arrived on the scene and inspected the area where
fighting took place.
“We will reach those behind the attack,” he vowed
from the shooting scene.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz held a
special evaluation of the situation.
Security forces are attempting to
figure out whether the terrorists were Salafi jihadi elements from Sinai, or
whether they originated from the Gaza Strip.
“We don’t believe this is an
isolated attack, we will see more of these incidents in the future,” said Col.
Guy Biton, commander of the Sagi Battalion.
“There are many terror cells
in Sinai, from Gaza and local groups. Where there are terror nests we
will face attacks.”
Yahalomi, of the religious town of Nof Ayalon in
central Israel, was laid to rest early Sunday morning in Modi’in.
promoted him posthumously to the rank of corporal.
Shmuel, told Ma’ariv that despite his low medical profile, his son insisted on
serving in the Artillery Corps, thereby following in Shmuel’s footsteps. Shmuel
added that this son viewed service in the army as an all-important
The Sinai Peninsula has become a hornet’s nest of jihadi
activity, and is also often used by Gaza terror elements to launch attacks on
the southern border.
On Wednesday, three Palestinian terrorists were
killed in an air strike in Gaza. They were planning to carry out an imminent
terror attack in Israel, and in the past had attempted to smuggle explosives out
of Gaza and into Israel through Sinai. The terrorists belonged to the Hamas
offshoot group Defenders of al-Aksa.
Last month, terrorists with
explosives in Sinai murdered 16 Egyptian security personnel and tried to burst
through the Israeli border with vehicles they hijacked from an Egyptian base.
The IDF stemmed the attack and destroyed the hijacked vehicle, killing the
In 2011, eight Israelis were murdered by a terror cell that
crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai.
Ben Hartman and Jerusalem Post
staff contributed to this report.