Barak on terror attack: Egypt president must control Sinai

Defense minister responds to attack on Israel-Egypt border fence which kills Israeli workman, wounds another; at least 2 terrorists dead; IDF searching the area, believe a 3rd terrorist killed in clash.

Border between Israel, Egypt along Road 12   (photo credit: REUTERS)
Border between Israel, Egypt along Road 12
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel expected the new president in Egypt - whoever it is - to retake control of the Sinai Peninsula and to clear it out 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 the Sinai to stop these kind of attacks," Barak said during a meeting with his Polish counterpart in Tel Aviv, as reports of Egyptian election results began to emerge
Barak's comments came in response to a terror attack earlier Monday, in which a terror cell crossed into Israel, killing one Israeli and seriously wounding another. The attack came almost a year since the last deadly terror infiltration from the Sinai.
The incident took place at around 6 a.m., along a section of the Egyptian border, located about 30 km. from the Gaza Strip and not far from the Israeli town of Nitzana.
Israeli workmen involved in constructing the border fence were driving in two cars along the border when a road-side bomb went off. The bomb  and terrorists were on the Egyptian side of the border, the IDF said. The bomb hit one of the cars which flipped over, killing one of the workmen. Another workman was seriously injured.
A force from Golani immediately arrived at the scene, a gun fight ensued and a bomb carried by one of the terrorists exploded. Two terrorists were killed in the gunfight and the IDF believed that a third was also killed in the clash, but had not yet located him.
The terrorists were wearing uniforms, military vests and helmets, and were armed with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles, fragmentation grenades and additional RPGs.
While the IDF had yet to rule out that additional terrorists infiltrated into Israel, it said this appeared to be unlikely. The IDF added that the terror cell could be larger than three and additional terrorists could be in Egypt.
The IDF was still searching for additional terrorists, and ordered all residents in the area to remain inside their homes. Schools were closed for the time being.
The IDF also closed all roads in the area including Road 12 which was reopened last week after it was closed following the attacks last August.
Monday morning’s attack was the most sophisticated infiltration since the attack last August along the border which killed eight Israelis. Israel has claimed that last year’s attack was orchestrated by the Popular Resistance Committees – a Hamas offshoot based in Gaza – but carried out by Bedouin from the Sinai.
A senior IDF officer said that commanders stationed along the border have ruled out the possibility that a soldier was abducted by the cell but noted that it might have been the cell’s objective. The focus is currently on preventing additional attacks particularly inside Israeli towns in the Negev.
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo went to the scene to oversee the operation and Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz was holding consultations regarding the incident.
Following the attack, the Negev police sub-district deployed large numbers of forces throughout the area. Police shut off a section of Route 211, and set up checkpoints at the junctions of Kamhin and Kadesh Barnea.
The attack came on the heels of an Israeli airstrike against a rocket manufacturing plant inside Gaza late Sunday night, and after two Grad-model Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula over the weekend.
A senior defense official said Sunday that Israel had not yet confirmed the identity of the terror cell that launched the rockets but said that the IDF was bracing for additional attacks.
“This is a sensitive time for Egypt and we are prepared for the possibility that there will be a further escalation from the Sinai,” a senior defense official said on Sunday.
Nevertheless, a senior IDF officer said Monday that while there was a general high-level of alert along the border there was not specific intelligence about the early-morning infiltration.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report