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IDF: Egypt forces scouring Sinai for 3rd terrorist
By YAAKOV KATZ
06/18/2012
Barak on border attack from Sinai which killed Israeli workman, 2 terrorists: "New Egyptian president must clear Sinai of terror."
 
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 rocket-propelled grenade.

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 possible.

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 accounted for.

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.

By the 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.

IDF 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.

Defense Minister 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 infrastructure.

“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 barrier.

“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.
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