The army will bolster its presence along the border with Egypt and troops will
remain on high alert after terrorists killed an Israeli construction worker
there on Monday.
The attack was perpetrated by a cell consisting of about
four terrorists. Two men crossed into Israel, planted a roadside bomb and
detonated it next to jeeps carrying staff on their way to work on the fence that
Israel is building along the Sinai border.
Said Phashpashe, an Israeli
Arab from Haifa and the father of four children, was killed. After detonating
the bomb, the terrorists opened fire at the jeeps, using weapons that included a
A force from the Golani Brigade immediately
arrived, a gunfight ensued and a bomb carried by one of the terrorists exploded.
Two terrorists were killed in the gunfight.
Col. Tal Hermoni, commander
of the Southern Gaza Brigade, said the soldiers’ quick response prevented a
larger attack from taking place. Sources said it was possible that the
terrorists had planned to either kidnap an Israeli or infiltrate a nearby
Israeli community with the aim of killing as many people as
Fearing additional attacks and that some of the terrorists were
still in Israel, the IDF moved a number of Merkava tanks up to the border to
help protect against additional infiltrations. The tanks were removed
immediately after the IDF confirmed that all of the terrorists had been
The decision to move the tanks up along the border was
made while considering the peace treaty with Egypt, which forbids the deployment
of Israeli tanks in the area. IDF sources said they were deployed as the attack
was unfolding and that it was part of a defensive posture.
afternoon, the IDF had ruled out the possibility that terrorists remained in
Israel and shifted its focus to determining the identities of the attackers. The
army confirmed that it did not have intelligence about the attack.
sources said that one possibility was that the terrorists were Palestinians from
Gaza who had crossed into Sinai and then into Israel for the attack. Another
possibility was that the attackers were Beduin from Sinai who were operating on behalf of a Palestinian terrorist group.
Ehud Barak said that Israel expected the new president in Egypt – whoever they
may be – to retake control of the Sinai Peninsula and to clear it of terrorist
“We expect the president to take responsibility for all
of Egypt’s international commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel,
and to ensure security arrangements are in place in Sinai to stop these kind of
attacks,” Barak said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the attack
on the border with Egypt would not deter Israel from building the security
“This barrier is meant both to prevent terrorism and also to
prevent the entrance of infiltrators. Its construction is of supreme national
interest,” Netanyahu said.
Monday morning’s attack was the most
sophisticated infiltration from Sinai since the attacks last August 18 that
killed eight Israelis. Israel said that last year’s attacks were orchestrated by
the Popular Resistance Committees – a Hamas offshoot based in Gaza – but were
carried out by Beduin from Sinai.