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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The IDF Southern Command reprimanded the Egyptian military on Tuesday over an incident during which an Egyptian officer was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops after he crossed into Israel early Monday morning.
The incident took place when a group of Egyptian border policemen spotted a team of Beduin smugglers near the border with Israel. The Egyptian police began pursuing the smugglers and entered Israel. The IDF said that the Egyptians then spotted IDF troops and opened fire, mistaking them for the smugglers. The IDF returned fire and in the exchange an Egyptian officer was killed.
The Israeli soldiers told their commanders that they had come under fire from near the border and returned fire in the direction of the suspects, without realizing that they were firing at the Egyptian military.
IDF Division 80, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Yoel Strik, launched a joint investigation with the Egyptians into the incident. IDF commanders strongly rebuked their Egyptian counterparts over the incident which, they said, could have been avoided had the Egyptians informed Israel that they were in pursuit of smugglers along the border.
"With better communication the incident could have been prevented," an IDF source said.
Monday's incident was not the first time that Egyptian border police were killed by Israel. In June of 2006, two Egyptian police officers were killed after they infiltrated Israel and opened fire at a nearby Israeli tank crew.