The Israel Police has announced that a member of the YAMAM
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 Paskal Avrahami. He was married and had three children.
Click here for a timeline of the attack
Egypt security sources: Bus ambush unlikely to have
come from here
Barak: IDF will hunt down perpetrators of Eilat
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.
Avrahami was scheduled to be laid to rest at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem on Friday at 2:30p.m.
In a statement released after
the death was announced, Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said the
force "bows its heads and salutes Paskal Avrahami, the most veteran member of
the Counter-terrorism Unit, who fell in a firefight with terrorists
near the Netafim checkpoint." He added that Avrahami was born in
France, and emigrated to Israel in 1985. He served in a wide range of
roles in the Counter-terrorism Unit, though "little was known of
the humble fighter's acts and of the fact that he raised generations of
fighters." Avrahami received two citations for bravery and exemplary
conduct, and was known for his cool headedness and professionalism
under fire, Danino said. Avrahami was struck by a sniper from the terror
cell that launched deadly attacks north of Eilat.
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.
least seven Israelis were killed and dozens were wounded in a
sophisticated multi-stage terrorist attack, believed to be perpetrated
by almost two dozen attackers and launched from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
into southern Israel on Thursday afternoon prior to Avrahami's death.
sources said that the terrorists likely planned to abduct a soldier or a
civilian who would then be transferred to the Gaza Strip.
attack was carried out by terror cells affiliated with the Popular
Resistance Committees (PRC) in the Gaza Strip, whose leaders were killed
in response to the attacks in an Israel Air Force strike later Thursday
afternoon, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
In the evening,
rocket fire from the Gaza Strip intensified and the Iron Dome
counter-rocket system intercepted two Grad-model Katyusha rockets fired
The attacks commenced at about noon on Thursday,
when three terrorists wearing military vests and armed with assault
rifles, RPGs, roadside bombs and bomb belts, crossed into Israel near
the Netafim Border Crossing along Route 12 between Mitzpe Ramon and
The terrorists spread out about 200 meters from one
another and began attacking passing vehicles. They first opened fire on
Egged Bus 392 which was packed with civilians and soldiers. At least 10
passengers were wounded, most of them lightly to moderately, after the
bus driver continued driving.
Moments later, one of the
terrorists opened fire at an empty bus that drove by and detonated the
bomb belt he was carrying, killing himself and the bus driver. Another
terrorist opened fire at a passing car and killed the female driver.
The attacker then launched an RPG at an IAF helicopter but missed.
of the two remaining terrorists opened fire at a passing car, killing
four people. An IDF jeep from the Golani Brigade then arrived at the
scene and ran over the terrorist, killing him.
Another IDF jeep
arrived, was hit by a roadside bomb and as the soldiers got out of the
vehicle, the remaining terrorist opened fire, killing Naftali.
IDF soldiers and members of the police’s elite YAMAM Counter-terrorism
Unit who arrived at the scene, located the remaining terrorist and
Shots were then fired at the soldiers from within
Egypt. The soldiers returned fire and at one point crossed the border by
several meters, and killed the two terrorists.
The Egyptian military told the IDF that its soldiers also killed two terrorists in the Sinai.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had obtained intelligence about the
attack several days earlier and for that reason the YAMAM as well as
additional IDF units were already deployed along the border.
“If we hadn’t had these units nearby, the results would have been worse,” a senior IDF officer said.
pointed a finger at Cairo, which it said had lost control over the
Sinai, an area now flooded with terrorist cells from al- Qaida, Hamas
and other smaller organizations like the PRC and Islamic Jihad.
is clear that the terrorists came from Gaza and it is clear that they
move freely from Gaza to the Sinai,” a senior IDF source said Thursday
night. “The only way to stop this would be for the Egyptians to be
present along the border and to act more decisively.”
evening, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff
Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz were giving a press conference, another attack
took place in which gunmen opened fire at Israeli security forces
deployed along the border.
During that incident, a Border Police
unit, while taking part in a sweep of the area in which terrorists were
hiding, came under fire. Avrahami was shot and killed. As Gantz and
Barak were speaking, ambulances rushed down the road behind them to
attend to the wounded border policemen.
OC Southern Command
Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo said that security forces had been on high alert for
terror attacks coming from Sinai to Israel. 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.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu was expected to convene a meeting of his security cabinet late
Thursday night to consider Israel’s response.
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 had become shaky.
incident shows the weakening Egyptian grip on Sinai and the widening
operation of terrorists there,” he said. “The source of these terror
acts is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force.”