Two Egyptian policemen were killed Friday morning in a fire incident with the Israel Defense on the Israel-Egypt border, near Mount Sagi.
At first, IDF officials believed that the two were terrorists dressed as Egyptian security personnel, but Israeli security forces later confirmed that the two were Egyptian police officers.
Armor Corps spotted three men wearing Egyptian uniforms infiltrating Israel from Egypt on the central part of the border. The gunmen opened fire and attacked the soldiers. The troops fired back, killing two of the terrorists, while the third one fled back to Egypt.
An initial investigation into the incident revealed that the three men crossed 150 meters into Israel. Their bodies have been handed over to Egypt, the army said.
Army officials estimated the policemen had planned to hurt the soldiers and then continue toward one of the roads and carry out a shooting attack at Israeli vehicles.
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the incident. Two Kalashnikov rifles, nine matching magazines and a communicator were found near the terrorists' bodies.
Major Assaf Shatskin of the Armors Corps told Ynet: "A force from the battalion stood at the observation post not far from the border. At around 6.00 a.m. the soldiers spotted three terrorists crossing the border. They opened fire at the force. The force quickly responded, took cover, shot at them, hit two of them while the third one escaped. The soldiers later patrolled the area in order to make sure that there are no other terrorists."
"We have recently identified an escalation in the area," Shatskin said, adding that "the area serves as a convenient platform for infiltrating terrorists to carry out attacks, as the border is not hermetically closed."
"However, we are well prepared, and this is manifested by our success in capturing terrorists and reducing criminal smugglings," he said.
The major added: "We will continue to be prepared, but a shooting attack was thwarted today without a doubt. I am pleased that the force operated firmly and professionally, leading to positive results with no injuries."
Following the incident, Defense Minister Amir Peretz instructed diplomatic officials at his office and IDF officials to launch an inquiry into the incident in the field along with their Egyptian counterparts
The minister also approved the transfer of the two bodies to Egypt in order to tighten the cooperation between security forces on both sides of the border.
Redeployment along border
A large number of infiltrators are trying to enter Israel through the border. Two days ago, IDF soldiers killed an infiltrator on the central part of the border. The troops spotted six suspects carrying bags, who were attempting to cross the border. The force launched a suspect arrest procedure, and after failing to receive a response, opened fire at the infiltrators.
At the beginning of the year, IDF soldiers redeployed along the border, first on the northern zone, which interfaces the Gaza Strip's Philadelphi Route, and then more south.
The forces deployed in light of Southern Command Yoav Galant's policy after the area became highly sensitive due to the fear that the criminal activities along the border would turn into terror activities.
IDF officials stressed that changes have taken place in the area following the redeployment of forces, and reported a rise in the number of infiltrators captured, including a large number of vehicles and camels used by the infiltrators. In addition, the army thwarted several attempts to infiltrate terrorists and weapons through the border.
In March, IDF soldiers captured three Gaza residents on the southern part of the border in possession of cellular phones and cash.
The tension on the borders between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt has been increasing since Israel pulled out from the Gaza Strip. Following the series of bombings in Sinai,
the Egyptians accused
the Palestinians of allowing the terrorists to train in their territories and even receiving financial funding.
An Egyptian Interior Ministry statement said a Palestinian who it named as Abu Suleiman provided the Egyptian group with money. Another Palestinian, identified by the statement as Maged al-Deri, trained members of the group in the use of explosives and firearms. The training took place in the Gaza Strip.