An initial military investigation launched into the incident reveals that the terrorists took advantage of the arrival of African infiltrators and the fact that IDF soldiers left their post to offer them water.
Three terrorists emerged from behind a cliff, and opened fire on Artillery Corps soldiers securing the border fence construction from just 100 meters (328 feet) away.
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The soldier killed in the attack has been identified as Netanel Yahalomi, 20, of the religious community of Nof Ayalon. He was hit on the spot.
According to the inquiry, the terrorists had gathered intelligence and followed the group of 15 African infiltrators. When the infiltrators arrived at the border, several soldiers left their post to offer them water.
The terrorists then emerged from their hiding spot, approached the four fighters who remained at the post and opened fire, killing Netanel Yahalomi.
Corporal Netanel Yahalomi with his father Shmuel
Netanel Yahalomi's family after receiving the tragic news (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Artillery Corps force fired back at the terrorists, killing one of them. The incident took place on a mountainous area on the Israel-Egypt border, where a fence is being constructed along an area of 17 kilometers (10.5 miles).
A force from the Caracal Battalion, which was busy capturing African infiltrators in the area, was immediately dispatched to the scene of the attack.
The force fired at the two remaining terrorists with a machine gun and hit them. An explosive device on one of the terrorists' body was detonated, injuring another soldier. The soldier, who sustained light to moderate wounds, was rushed to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai said that the terrorists had been carrying many weapons on their bodies, including bullets, Kalashnikov rifles and grenades.
"They were on a major killing spree, but were killed within 15 minutes from the moment they fired the first shot," he said.
Mordechai added that the terrorists were dressed in civilian clothes, and praised the force for its determination. He noted that it was unclear which organization the terrorists were affiliated with.
Immediately after the incident, the IDF spokesperson said that a major terror attack within Israeli territory had been thwarted.
Southern Command Chief Tal Russo at scene of attack (photo courtesy of IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Southern Command Chief Tal Russo arrived at the scene of the attack. IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz held an evaluation of the situation with senior IDF officers following the attack.
Egyptian intelligence officials said the attackers had crossed the border and that one of the three terrorists blew himself up inside Israel.
The Egyptian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity according to regulations, told the Associated Press that an intelligence team had been dispatched to Israel to inspect the bodies of the militants and was looking to take them back to Egypt for further investigation.
Egypt also boosted security on the Egyptian side of the border, they said.
A security source in Sinai estimated that the three terrorists killed in the attack belonged to the Mujahideen Shura Council organization, which is active in Sinai, or to Palestinian organization Ansar Beit al-Makdas, Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Saba'a reported.
The two organizations are affiliated with the global Islamic Jihad organization and the Salafi movement of Islam. According to the source, three other gunmen were injured in the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report