PM at Kerem Shalom: Israel can only rely on itself

Netanyahu expresses condolences for slain Egyptian soldiers; Defense Minister Barak says attacks should be "wake-up call" for Egypt; Liberman says Egypt knows what to do without Israel's advice.

August 6, 2012 13:44
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Barak in Sinai after attack.

Netanyahu and Barak in Sinai 390. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu joined Defense Minister Ehud Barak on a tour of the Kerem Shalom area Monday where a terrorist infiltration was thwarted Sunday night.

Netanyahu, near the burned out stolen Egyptian armed jeep, praised the soldiers and officers at the scene for their preparedness for the attack.

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"I also want to express my sadness at the killing of the Egyptian soldiers. I think it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a joint interest in a quiet border," he said.

At the same time, Netanyahu said the failed attack proved once again that when it comes to the security of Israeli citizens, Israel "can and must rely only on itself. There is no one except the IDF and security forces of Israel that can do this, and we will continue to do so."

Earlier Monday, Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that that he hoped the attack would spur Egypt to take stronger action in the Sinai Peninsula.

"Perhaps this will be a necessary wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters in their hands in a more serious way," Barak said.

During a tour of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that “a large disaster was averted.”

In the ambitious and sophisticated attack on Sunday night, global jihad terrorists infiltrated Israel after breaking into an Egyptian military base and stealing two vehicles, including an armored jeep.

One of the vehicles, a small pickup truck, exploded as it rammed through a section of the fence near the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is shared by Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. A number of terrorists succeeded in exiting the second vehicle before it was destroyed by an air strike. They crossed into Israel and engaged in a firefight with IDF troops. Eight terrorists were killed in the gunfight.

During the raid on the Egyptian base, around 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed. IDF sources said the attackers were probably Beduin residents of Sinai who were part of a larger global jihad terror cell based in the peninsula.

“These are terrorists who are connected between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai,” Gantz said during a tour of the border with OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo. “This was a joint operation of intelligence agencies, the Israel Air Force and the IDF infantry and armored units which worked all together and succeeded in ending the attack within 15 minutes from when it began.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that the Egyptians know very well the significance of Sunday's attack and what they need to do, and don't need Israel's advice.

Liberman, on a tour of the northern border with other members of his Israel Beytenu party, said it was clear in Cairo that the attacks in Sinai are bad for Egypt's' national security, for its economy and tourism trade. "I hope the Egyptians will draw the conclusions," he said.

The conclusions Jerusalem hopes the Egyptians draw is that they will act more forcefully in Sinai to stamp out the global Jihadist terrorism growing there, and which threatens both Israel and Egypt.

Liberman, asked whether Israel sent any messages to the new government in Egypt since the attack, said that Jerusalem was in daily contact with Egypt.

"I don't think Egypt needs any advice from us, they alone understand the significance of this type of actions," he said. "I only hope that they draw the conclusions and we see results as fast as possible for the good of the whole region."

On landing in Athens at the start of his state visit to Greece on Monday, President Shimon Peres, at the official reception hosted by his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias, offered condolences to the people of Egypt.

It is in the interests of both Egypt and Israel to maintain peace and quiet on both sides of the border, and throughout southern Israel, he said.

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.

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