The Israel Police has announced that a member of the Counter-terrorism Unit was killed Thursday evening during a firefight with terrorists north of Eilat on the border with Egypt. The event took place hours after a three-stage attack in the area killed seven Israelis and wounded dozens more.

The officer has been named as 49-year-old Pascal Avrahami. He was married and had three children.

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Border Police spokesman Shai Hakimi told The Jerusalem Post that Avrahami was taking part in sweeps of the region north of Eilat to search for additional terrorists who remained on the scene when the force came under fire. Police are expected to release the details of his funeral in the near future.

Avrahami was the most veteran member of the Counter-terrorism Unit and took part in many missions deemed vital to Israel's national security, Maariv said on Thursday night.

The incident took place while Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz were giving a press conference in the area.

Earlier Thursday, seven people were reported dead and at least 25 injured in terror attacks along Israel’s border with Egypt early Thursday afternoon.

IDF forces were still searching the area around Eilat and the Egyptian border out of concern that there may be terrorists still in the area. Sources said that it is possible that there were as many 20 terrorist in the area, both in Israel and on the Egyptian side of the border.

They added that there may be another terrorist cell hiding in the area. IDF and special police counter-terrorist forces killed seven terrorists during the three earlier attacks.

At a press conference Thursday evening, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo said that security forces had been on high alert for terror attacks coming from Sinai to Israel.

Security sources said that due to the alert, special forces including the police's YAMAM anti-terror force were already positioned in the area.

Russo said that in the first attack, three terrorists with suicide bomb vests, grenades and machine guns opened fire on a bus, then went northwards and opened fire on a civilian vehicle and another bus.

At that point, one terrorist detonated his suicide vest near the bus and the other two terrorists opened fire on security forces arriving on the scene. Two other terrorists on the Egyptian side of the border also opened fire. Russo said that Egyptian security forces shot and struck two terrorist on their side of the border.

In total, he said there are six civilians and one member of the security forces were killed in the attacks.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the attack as a painful and severe incident and sent his condolences to relatives and loved ones of the victims. Barak said residents of eilat can continue with their normal lives.

"We won't always be able to prevent an attack, but the IDF will work tirelessly to protect the people of Israel," he said.

Barak added that Egypt's control of Sinai has become shaky.

The terror attack began at noon Thursday when terrorists opened fire at an Egged bus traveling on Road 12 near Eilat.

Several minutes later, a number of bombs went off next to an IDF patrol traveling along the border with Egypt. There were also reports of mortar fire from Egypt into Israel. The terrorists apparently then moved on to another spot and fired an anti-tank missile at another vehicle, injuring a number of passengers.

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Magen David Adom said that terrorists attacked a bus and a private vehicle 20 kilometers north of the site of the first incident. Paramedics said five people there were mortally wounded in that attack.

The casualties were evacuated to Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat. A number of soldiers were among the casualties

IDF soldier target, hit 7 terrorists involved in attacks

IDF soldiers targeted and hit seven terrorists involved in the attacks, according to IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich.

“This seems like a coordinated attack,” a senior IDF officer said. There was also speculation that there may have been more than one terror cell coordinating the attacks.

Commander of the IDF’s Edom Division Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yidayi arrived at the scene of the bus attack and set up a command post to coordinate efforts to capture the perpetrators.

On Sunday, the Egyptian Military launched a massive operation to capture terrorist cells operating in the Sinai.

Due to concern that terrorists had infiltrated into Israel from Egypt, security officers in Israeli communities along the border were ordered to raise the level of alert and to tell residents to remain inside their home.

Defense Ministry wants faster border fence construction

Israel has so far managed to construct a barrier along 45 kilometers of it's southern border with Egypt, which stretches for over 200 km.

The original plan was to complete construction of the fence in 2013 but the Defense Ministry decided several months ago to hire six different contracts in order to speed up the construction and complete the project by the end of 2012.

The Defense Ministry said it would complete construction of an additional 100 km by the end of 2011. Officials said that 700 meters of fence was constructed on a daily basis.

Following the attacks near Eilat on Thursday, Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Udi Shani convened a meeting to discuss ways to increase the number of workers who work on the fence in an effort to move up the completion date.

Authorities set up an emergency telephone number for those affected by the attacks near Eilat: 1255175.


Yaakov Katz and JPost.com staff contributed to this report

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