Netanyahu: Israel will fully investigate Egyptian border terror killing

Netanyahu criticized the IAEA for surrendering to pressure from Iran after the IAEA closed some of it's investigations into Iran's nuclear program.

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the government's weekly government meeting. (photo credit: AMIT SHABI/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the government's weekly government meeting.
(photo credit: AMIT SHABI/POOL)

The attack at the Egyptian border early Saturday morning that left three Israeli soldiers dead is "severe and unusual" and will be "fully investigated", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the Israeli cabinet's weekly meeting on Sunday morning.

"Israel passed a clear message to the Egyptian government: We expect the joint investigation to be comprehensive and thorough. This is part of the important security cooperation between us that has benefited both countries for years. We will derive the necessary conclusions regarding our activity at the Southern border," the prime minister said.

"The fence, which was built in 2013, slowed the flood of illegal infiltrators into Israel. But there is still smuggling, and from time to time attempts by terrorists to cross the border and harm our forces," Netanyahu said.

"We will refresh the guidelines, the operative methods and means, in order to reduce the smuggling to a minimum and ensure that such tragic attacks do not repeat themselves," the prime minister added.  

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi announced on Sunday that the results of the investigation into the attack will be presented in one week's time.

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna (credit: REUTERS/ LEONHARD FOEGER)
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna (credit: REUTERS/ LEONHARD FOEGER)

He additionally ordered to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the defense strategy and approach regarding the defense of borders with non-enemy countries like Egypt.

A senior IDF official said that Halevi had decided to turn the probe regarding the incident into a flagship investigation, Walla reported. "In the investigations, as time goes by, more painful details are revealed. I would not be surprised if heads fly in the Southern Command," he estimated. He added that a preliminary investigation shows substation gaps between standing orders and what happened on the ground at the border with Egypt.

Two IDF soldiers were shot and killed early on Saturday morning, while an additional third soldier was killed by the same terrorist several hours later in an exchange of fire.

The three soldiers were identified as Sgt. Lia Ben-Nun, St.-Sgt. Uri Itzhak Ilouz, and St.-Sgt. Ohad Dahan.

Ben-Nun and Ilouz were found lifeless at an IDF guard post at approximately 9:00 a.m. by members of their team who had been sent to check on their well-being after they failed to respond to their radios, a preliminary investigation showed. The last contact with them was made at 4:15 a.m., according to KAN.

Following the discovery of their bodies, additional reinforcements arrived and a search operation was carried out in order to locate the perpetrator, who was believed to have infiltrated Israel from across the border at some point during the night. During the operation, Dahan was shot and killed, and an additional soldier was lightly injured.

The IDF thwarted a drug smuggling operation in the same area as the shooting earlier on Saturday night, seizing NIS 1.5 million worth of drugs. The smuggling attempt was carried out with the help of ladders, and the IDF is investigating the possibility that the two incidents were connected.

The attacker was a member of the Egyptian police forces. A Koran was found amongst his possessions, which military officials said indicates a possibility of religious radicalization, according to KAN News. The attacker also reportedly had with him six magazines, a commando knife and food, which suggested that the attack was premeditated, KAN added.

 The attacker used his knife to cut through zip ties that held shut an emergency gate on the border fence, according to the preliminary investigation. The attacker managed to assault the two soldiers who were positioned 150 meters away without being discovered.