An Egyptian soldier stands near the Egyptian national flag and the Israeli flag at the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF jeep on routine security patrol near the tiny community of Ezuz came under fire from drug smugglers across the Egyptian border on Wednesday.
The criminals, who wounded two soldiers, were trying to bring narcotics from Sinai into Israel.
IDF ground units killed between three and six smugglers in return fire.
According to an initial army investigation, the jeep was fired upon from three directions, including from a vehicle used by the smugglers.
The multi-directional attack, which included an anti-tank missile, was designed to pin down the jeep and kill the soldiers, before bringing the drugs into Israel.
The army said incident represented an escalation in the level of violence employed by smugglers.
Capt. Or Ben-Yehuda, a company commander in the Caracal infantry battalion who was in the jeep when the attack began, got out and opened fire. She was hit and lightly wounded. Another soldier in the jeep was hit and seriously wounded.
The commander of the Caracal Battalion commander subsequently arrived with reinforcements.
Egyptian security personnel arrived after the IDF killed the attackers and collected weapons and narcotics on the Egyptian side of the border.
The wounded were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, where the hospital announced that Ben-Yehuda was in good condition and the soldier was in satisfactory-to-serious condition.
Residents of Ezuz, which is 12 kilometers south-southeast of Nitzana, were told to stay in their homes during the attack.
“We have launched a large-scale intelligence and aerial intelligence effort to understand the incident,” an army source said soon after the cross-border attack. Several hours later, the army ruled out an infiltration into Israel.
In an unrelated incident, a jeep overturned 4 kilometers from the scene of the attack, injuring five soldiers.