Barak at press conference 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Harmony / Defense Ministry)
Israel on Tuesday issued a formal apology to the Egyptian government and took
responsibility for the shooting that killed five Egyptian policemen during the
terrorist attacks near Eilat in August.
The apology was issued as Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the cabinet to approve a prisoner swap for
the release of tank gunner Gilad Schalit. Egypt played a key role in mediating
negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the prisoner exchange.
apology was issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has overseen the talks
with Cairo that were led by OC Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel.
Earlier this week, an Israeli delegation traveled to Cairo and presented a draft
of the planned apology to the interim military regime for its
On August 18, a number of armed terrorists crossed into Israel
via the Egyptian-Israeli border and killed eight Israelis, including two
Israel blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance
Committees for orchestrating the attacks and several hours later killed the
group’s top leadership in an air strike in the southern Gaza
During the fighting along the Sinai border, five Egyptian
policemen were killed. The Egyptians accused the IDF of shooting into Egypt and
violating its sovereignty and demanded an apology. Israel expressed regret for
the loss of Egyptian life but refrained from issuing an apology.
launched a probe, led by Eshel, which determined that it was possible that some
of the soldiers were killed in the crossfire between IDF troops and members of
the terrorist cell who were shooting into Israel from the Sinai
“The lessons were learned from the probe to prevent similar
attacks in the future and to improve security along the border,” Barak’s office
said in a statement. “Due to the findings from the probe, Defense Minister Barak
decided to apologize for the death of each policeman who was killed by Israeli