An investigation of the serious incident on the Egyptian border on Shabbos during which an Egyptian policeman infiltrated into Israel and murdered three IDF soldiers uncovered major lapses in the security on the border and in IDF operations.
The terrorist entered Israel via an emergency gate on the border normally used by IDF soldiers in coordination with Egypt. The gate was secured only with zip ties since it is meant to be opened quickly. IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing that an investigation is taking place into why the sensors on the border fence didn’t issue an alert following the terrorist’s infiltration into Israel.
Hagari added that there are several small safe crossings in the security fence for emergencies and the terrorist used one of them. “We will carry out an investigation to improve this. Some of the crossings are coordinated with the Egyptians.”
Maariv reported that the terrorist walked about six kilometers (3.7 miles) from his base in Egypt carrying a knapsack with his gear. When he reached the border fence, he cut the zip ties on the gate. The IDF soldiers posted nearby did not notice him and were caught by surprise when the terrorist opened fire. They didn’t manage to return fire before succumbing to their wounds.
Ynet reported that the terrorist planned every step of the attack beforehand. He was very familiar with the area due to his position as a border guard and knew exactly how and where he would cross into Israel and where the IDF guard post was located. He even prepared a hiding place for himself in Israel one and a half kilometers east of the fence that he marked with a pile of rocks.
According to an IDF assessment, the soldiers were shot at about 6:30 a.m. on Shabbos morning. Their last communication with their commander was about 4:15 a.m., and their bodies weren’t found until almost five hours later, around 9:00 a.m., when the platoon commander arrived at the post at the end of the guards’ shift.
In the wake of the discovery of the attack, additional IDF forces were deployed to the area and searches for the terrorist began. A surveillance drone was deployed which located a suspicious figure and the division commander summoned combat helicopters to assist in confronting the suspect. However, after the helicopters were delayed, the commander made a decision to advance without them. IDF forces approached the area to “close the circle” on the suspect but the terrorist opened fire, killing Ori Yitzchak Iluz, H’yd. Several minutes later, another group of IDF soldiers killed the terrorist.
A Quran was found in the terrorist’s possession along with two knives and six firearm cartridges. The IDF believes that the terrorist acted independently and was not tied to any terrorist organization.
Egypt still maintains that the police officer was chasing drug smugglers into Israeli territory. However, according to the IDF spokesperson, the thwarting of the drug smuggling operation that preceded the terror attack took place at about 2:30 a.m., about three kilometers (1.8 miles) from the scene of the attack.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)