Scene of border attack, Monday
Photo: Yoav Zitun
Israel estimates Islamic Jihad behind border attack
Minister says terrorists who killed Said Phashpashe entered Sinai from Gaza. 'Islamic Jihad knows it cannot fire rockets because Israel will retaliate harshly,' he says. Egypt: Terrorists weren't Palestinian; we are in total control of Sinai

Israeli officials estimate that Islamic Jihad terrorists carried out Monday morning's deadly terror attack on defense contractor crews building the new security fence along the Israel-Egypt border.


The attack claimed the life of Said Phashpashe, 36, from Haifa. Golani Brigade soldiers who were scrambled to the scene killed two terrorists.


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"The terrorists from Gaza attacked from Sinai because Islamic Jihad realizes that it can no longer fire rockets from the Strip because Israel will retaliate harshly," a member of the cabinet's special security forum said.


"Therefore, they are carrying out attacks along the (Israel-Egypt border) fence," the minister said. "For them his is the most efficient way to (attack Israel)."


הטנק ליד הגבול, היום אחרי הפיגוע (צילום: יואב זיתון)

IDF tank near the border (Photos: Yoav Zitun)


The minister also addressed the decision to move IDF tanks closer to the Israel-Egypt border, near the site of Monday's attack. "The tanks are there due to their technological capabilities to identify terrorists – not because of any Egyptian threat," he stressed.


The tanks were moved closer to the border as part of "routine enforcement" near the border, the minister explained. "Along the border there is a narrow demilitarized strip, and moving tanks into that area requires Egypt's authorization. So, if IDF tanks entered the area, the Egyptians probably authorized it."


Meanwhile, Egyptian media outlets reported that Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, governor of North Sinai province, denied that armed Palestinians had infiltrated Simai and carried out the attack. According to him, infiltrators are apprehended as soon as they cross into Egypt.


The governor also rejected Israel's claim that Egypt has no control over what is going on in Sinai. "We are in total control of Sinai," he said, adding that Egypt was not responsible for security arrangements along the Israeli side of the border.


At around noon the Israel Air Force struck targets in northern Gaza Strip Monday. Palestinian sources said two Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in the attack.


The IDF confirmed targeting a sniper cell, saying that the operation was unrelated to Monday's terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border and came in response to recent sniper fire.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the border attack highlighted the fact that "Egypt's control in Sinai is dwindling," while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack underscores the need the need to complete the construction of the border fence – against infiltrations and terror attacks."



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