IDF strikes Gaza in response to attacks; 5 reported dead

Joint IDF, Shin Bet operation hits Rafah after triple terrorist attacks near Eilat kill 7, injure at least 25; special police forces, IDF soldiers kill 7 terrorists.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 18, 2011 18:45
3 minute read.
Security personnel next to bus after ambush, Thurs

Egged bus attacked 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Lior Grundman)

 
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The IDF attacked terror targets in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in response to a three-stage terrorist attack which killed seven Israelis and wounded dozens in the South earlier in the day.

Five Palestinians were killed in the joint IDF and Shin Bet strike.

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Click here for a timeline of the attack
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The IDF strike came after seven people were reported dead and at least 25 injured in terror attacks along Israel’s border with Egypt early Thursday afternoon.

IDF forces were still searching the area around Eilat and the Egyptian border out of concern that there may be terrorists still in the area. Sources said that it is possible that there were as many 20 terrorist in the area, both in Israel and on the Egyptian side of the border.

They added that there may be another terrorist cell hiding in the area. IDF and special police counter-terrorist forces killed seven terrorists during the three coordinated attacks.

The terror attack began at noon Thursday when terrorists opened fire at an Egged bus traveling on Road 12 near Eilat.

Several minutes later, a number of bombs went off next to an IDF patrol traveling along the border with Egypt. There were also reports of mortar fire from Egypt into Israel. The terrorists apparently then moved on to another spot and fired an anti-tank missile at another vehicle, injuring a number of passengers.



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Magen David Adom said that terrorists attacked a bus and a private vehicle 20 kilometers north of the site of the first incident. Paramedics said five people there were mortally wounded in that attack.

The casualties were evacuated to Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat. A number of soldiers were among the casualties

IDF soldier target, hit 7 terrorists involved in attacks

IDF soldiers targeted and hit seven terrorists involved in the attacks, according to IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich.

“This seems like a coordinated attack,” a senior IDF officer said. There was also speculation that there may have been more than one terror cell coordinating the attacks.

Commander of the IDF’s Edom Division Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yidayi arrived at the scene of the bus attack and set up a command post to coordinate efforts to capture the perpetrators. The IDF suspects that the terrorists infiltrated into Israel after crossing into Egypt possible from the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, the Egyptian Military launched a massive operation to capture terrorist cells operating in the Sinai.

Due to concern that terrorists had infiltrated into Israel from Egypt, security officers in Israeli communities along the border were ordered to raise the level of alert and to tell residents to remain inside their home.

Defense Ministry wants faster border fence construction

Israel has so far managed to construct a barrier along 45 kilometers of it's southern border with Egypt, which stretches for over 200 km.

The original plan was to complete construction of the fence in 2013 but the Defense Ministry decided several months ago to hire six different contracts in order to speed up the construction and complete the project by the end of 2012.

The Defense Ministry said it would complete construction of an additional 100 km by the end of 2011. Officials said that 700 meters of fence was constructed on a daily basis.

Following the attacks near Eilat on Thursday, Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Udi Shani convened a meeting to discuss ways to increase the number of workers who work on the fence in an effort to move up the completion date.

Authorities set up an emergency telephone number for those affected by the attacks near Eilat: 1255175.


Yaakov Lappin and JPost.com staff contributed to this report

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