20:00 last night, we identified a group of terrorists which infiltrated an Egyptian base, took over two vehicles – a truck and an armored vehicle (APC). They also killed approximately 15 Egyptian security personnel and loaded the truck with explosives. They then stormed the border fence between Israel and Egypt at Kerem Shalom. It's not far from Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, with hundreds of Israelis living in it, and also not far from the Kerem Shalom supplies crossing.
The truck exploded after storming the border fence – I suppose they wanted to target some soldiers or a security post. It was a very large explosion. We targeted the second vehicle from the air (the APC); we hit it once from the air, and since we could still identify movement there we fired from the air again.
All in all, we targeted 5 terrorists – four in the APC, one driving the truck, all infiltrating into Israel. We assume they wanted to kidnap Israelis or reach one of the houses in the region. Mind you, there are around 10,000 Israelis living in that area.
Additional information: A year ago last August on Road #12 (150 km south of the area) there was another attack from Sinai, this time targeting a civilian bus. So the security situation has been fragile for a while now. Another event in April 2008 – Saturday morning, 2 disguised jeeps coming from the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom stormed the security fence. They tried to run down some soldiers, assumingly kidnap them. We were also able to prevent that attack.
We had some prior intel about this kind of attack. Three days ago we published an announcement asking Israelis to refrain from going to Sinai due to security threats. At the moment we're not able to pin down the affiliation of the terrorists in the group. There are some possibilities due to connections between organizations in the Sinai area, but at the moment we're not 100% sure.
Sinai has become a no-land's land quite a few months ago. There are several terror organizations loose in the region. We need to wait a bit in order to confirm the exact affiliation of the terrorists acting.
The infiltration was initially in the Rafah area. As you know Rafah was divided into two – the Egypt area and the Israeli area. The vehicle came from Rafah to Kerem Shalom We found large amounts of weapons: explosive belts, magazines and ammo, flak jackets. It's clear that a lethal attack was prevented here.
There were a lot of inaccuracies in the beginning: where did we attack? On the Egyptian side or Israeli side? I want to emphasize that the vehicle was targeted only after it crossed into Israel. There were also no tanks involved, although some people spreading rumors may have confused the APC for a tank. Overall there was exaggerated info about the Israeli Air Force targeting – heavy rocket fire and so forth – the main explosions were from the APC itself, which exploded near Kerem Shalom, and not from the firepower of the strikes.
The IDF blog has pictures in a post:IDF Thwarts Major Infiltration Attempt by Terrorists at Israel-Egypt Border
|The APC on fire after it was targeted by the Israel Air Force|
|The burnt APC (Armed Personnel Carrier) the morning after the attack|
|Some of the weapons carried by the terrorists |
during their infiltration attempt
|IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and other senior IDF officers |
visit the site of the infiltration into Israel.
The IDF blog post concludes:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulated the Israeli forces in southern Israel for preventing a severe attack in the region.With the tragic death of 15 Egyptian soldiers, hopefully the Egyptian government will recognize this need.
The IDF, with the assistance of the Shin Bet, was “focused, alert and determined, and thwarted a terror attack that would have led to numerous injuries,” Barak said. “The attack methods employed by the terrorists raise once again the need for Egyptian operation to instill security and prevent terror in Sinai.”
Technorati Tag: Israel and Gaza and Sinai and Terrorism.