Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi expressed his condolences for the killing of three Israeli soldiers by an Egyptian police officer, in a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
Netanyahu thanked Sisi for his remarks, as well as his commitment to a joint investigation of the attack.
“The two leaders expressed their commitment to continue strengthening the peace and security cooperation that is vital to both countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
Sisi’s spokesman Ahmed Fahmy confirmed the call was about the shooting, and that Sisi stressed the importance of coordination in the investigation, as well as the need to continue bilateral relations, and called for a just and comprehensive peace in the region, according to Arabic media.
Israel returned the body of Mohammed Salah, 22, the police officer who killed the IDF soldiers, to Egypt on Monday.Salah shot Sgt. Lia Ben-Nun, St.-Sgt. Uri Itzhak Ilouz, and St.-Sgt. Ohad Dahan on the Egyptian border on Saturday. An officer found the first two soldiers’ bodies after he was unable to reach them via radio. They found Salah following a search operation, and he shot and killed Dahan in an exchange of fire between the Egyptian police officer and IDF soldiers; another soldier was injured.
The IDF found six magazines for Salah’s rifle, two combat knives and a Koran on his person
Members of Salah’s family were detained for questioning on Monday, BBC Arabic reported. A relative said that Salah sought to avenge the death of an Egyptian soldier at Israel’s hands, though no such incident was known to have occurred in recent years.
The Egyptian army claimed that Salah was chasing drug smugglers, while Israel has characterized the shooting as a terrorist attack.
Netanyahu said on Sunday that “Israel sent a clear message to the Government of Egypt: We expect the joint investigation to be thorough. This is part of our important security cooperation that has existed for the good of the two countries for years.
“We will draw all the necessary conclusions in relation to our actions along the southern border, the Israel-Egypt border,” he added. “We will refresh the rules, the plans of action and the means, in order to reduce smuggling to a minimum and to ensure that tragic terrorist attacks such as these will not occur again.”
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy said the investigation into the killing will be completed on Sunday.
During a visit to the Egyptian border, IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said, "We lost two male combat fighters and one female combat fighter during an operational incident, and the results are difficult."
"Our job [as commanders] is to do everything so that this will not repeat itself...which includes how we...plan the missions and build the surrounding infrastructure" and strategy for Egyptian border soldiers to follow.
Despite the tragedy, Halevi said, "we have excellent battalions. You are doing outstanding work," as he visited the border forces during their sub-drill known as "Storm" which is part of the wider two-week-long multi-front IDF wide drill known as "Crushing Punch."