Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that he hoped Sunday's terrorist attack would spur Egypt to take stronger action in the Sinai Peninsula.
"Perhaps this will be necessary wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters in their hands in a more serious way," Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
On Monday during a tour of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where the attack occurred, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz
said that “a large disaster was averted.”
In the ambitious and sophisticated attack on Sunday night, global jihad terrorists infiltrated Israel after breaking into an Egyptian military base and stealing two vehicles, including an armored jeep.
One of the vehicles, a small pickup truck, exploded as it rammed through a section of the fence near the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is shared by Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. A number of terrorists succeeded in exiting the second vehicle before it was destroyed by an air strike. They crossed into Israel and engaged in a firefight with IDF troops. Eight terrorists were killed in the gunfight.
During the raid on the Egyptian base, around 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed. IDF sources said the attackers were probably Beduin residents of Sinai who were part of a larger global jihad terror cell based in the peninsula.
“These are terrorists who are connected between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai,” Gantz said during a tour of the border with OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo. “This was a joint operation of intelligence agencies, the Israel Air Force and the IDF infantry and armored units which worked all together and succeeded in ending the attack within 15 minutes from when it began.”
Earlier Monday, Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren charged that Iran supported the terrorists responsible for carrying out a terrorist attack on Egyptian and Israeli targets.
"Iranian backed terrorists again struck at our Southern border today killing 15 Egyptian guards and attempting to massacre Israeli civilians," Oren wrote in a Twitter post. "Terrorists also shelled Israeli farms and towns along the border."
Oren added: "The thwarted attack underscores the length to which the extremist regime in Iran will attempt to kill innocent Israelis."
IDF sources said the attackers were probably Beduin residents of Sinai who were part of a larger global jihad terror cell based in the peninsula.
Hamas condemned the assault on Egyptian soldiers, calling it an "ugly crime" and adding the group's "deep condolences to the families of the victims and to the leadership and the people of Egypt."
Iran has been blamed for a number of deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians around the world, the most recent of which occurred in Burgas, Bulgaria, and resulted in the deaths of seven. In response to that attack, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: "All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places."
Reuters contributed to this report