Friday's clash on the Israeli-Egyptian border that left one IDF soldier and three terrorists killed just proves how important the decision was a couple years ago to build the 240-kilometer fence along the Egyptian border that is now nearing completion, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
Netanyahu, speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, said the fence – and the IDF activities along the fence – prevent not only the entrance of illegal migrants, but also the infiltration of terrorist cells.
Netanyahu pointed out that the soldier who fell, Corporal Netanel Yahalomi, did not have a combat medical profile, but through stubborn determination fought to be a combat soldier. Netanyahu also praised the soldiers of the Caracal unit, which includes both men and women in active combat positions, for their role in preventing the terrorist cell from infiltrating.
"I want to praise the actions of the fighters, men and women, in preventing an attack that could have been much more deadly," he said. "I think this also illustrates again the importance of the government's decision to erect the security fence on the Sinai border."
Terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula opened fire on IDF soldiers on the Israeli-Egyptian border on Friday, killing Corporal Netanel Yahalomi and wounding another soldier, before the gunmen were killed in return fire.
While it was initially reported that the soldiers had left a fortified position to give water to a group of migrants when they were fired on, Colonel Guy Biton, commander of the IDF brigade which patrols in the area along the border where the incident happened, later said “there is no connection between the presence of the infiltrators at the border and the incident with the terrorists."
The attack occurred along a 17-km. stretch of the border where the fence has not yet been completed, in the Har Harif area.
Gantz meets soldiers who thwarted attack
During a visit to the site of the attack on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Gantz said that the completion of the Israel-Egypt border fence will not mean an end to the threat from the Sinai peninsula.
"The Sinai border will continue to pose a challenge for us," Gantz said.
"We have made a great effort over the past two years to seal the border with Egypt and it will be sealed, but even when that happens, the threat won't be eliminated," he continued.
Gantz met with soldiers of the Artillery Corps and the Caracal Battalion who thwarted the attack. Among the soldiers of this force was a woman who was shot in the line of duty – yet rushed forward and struck one of the terrorists, according to the IDF Spokesman's Unit.
An Islamist terrorist group based in Egypt's Sinai claimed responsibility for the attack.
The group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes said the attack was in response to the anti-Islam film that has sparked worldwide protests and violence.
Netanyahu to meet Clinton, Ban in New York
Netanyahu also told the cabinet he will be leaving immediately after Yom Kippur for the UN to address the General Assembly.
Referring to Iran, Netanyahu said he will "say again that it is forbidden for the most dangerous nation in the world to get the most dangerous weapons in the world."
Netanyahu told the cabinet he would meet during his three day stay with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whom he criticized sharply last month for attending the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran; with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whom he praised earlier this month for taking a "moral stand" and cutting ties with Iran; and with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he indirectly criticized two weeks ago for not willing to put down "red lines" on Iran.
JPost.com staff contributed to this report.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders