The device used by Palestinian infiltrators Saturday morning to cross the wall separating Gaza from Israel is professional and sophisticated, IDF Northern Gaza Brigade Commander Moni Katz said Saturday afternoon.
"This device may have been built with the help of information that came from outside the Gaza Strip," he said. Saturday morning, IDF soldiers killed two heavily armed Palestinian gunmen who crossed into Israel near Gaza's Erez crossing.
Colonel Katz estimated that the two terrorists were assisted by two other people as they crossed the nine meter (roughly 30 feet) fence. Later, the collaborators went back into the Strip as the two gunmen headed north in the direction of the Coordination and Liaison Administration at the Erez crossing.
Troops patrol near Gaza Saturday (Photo: AFP)
The two Palestinians were carrying guns, explosive devices, bulletproof vests, and rifle magazines the army said.
"They opened fired at a short range…and hurled a hand grenade. Later, the two continued north in the direction of the communities of Erez and Netiv Ha'asara," Katz said. "In fact, the moment they opened fire, we realized we were dealing with a terrorist infiltration. Until that moment, because of the heavy fog, it was very difficult to see what was happening."
"We rushed troops to the area and at the same time sent forces to examine the border fence and wall in order to see how many terrorists infiltrated Israel," the army official added.
Colonel Katz noted that the army did not receive an advance warning regarding an intention to carry out a terror attack. However, because of the heavy fog, troops implemented a special procedure of patrols along the fence, he said.
"Troops who were on patrol were fired at, and this is how the terrorists were identified," Katz said.
The incident ended a short time later, as troops quickly surrounded the terrorists and charged at them. In all, about 80 minutes passed from the moment shots were first heard at Erez to the killing of the terrorists about one kilometer inside Israeli territory. However, IDF troops continued to scour the area in order to ensure no other terrorists were able to infiltrate. Several hours later, the special deployment was called off.
'System working well'Even though the terrorists were able to cross into Israel, Colonel Katz summarized the incident on a positive note.
"The crossing of the wall is obviously not a good thing, but this is an incident that didn't surprise us," he said. "It was a night of very heavy fog, and this kind of thing can happen. We can't assign a soldier to guard every meter of the wall and fence. Exactly for that reason, we have the forces who are deployed here and know how to handle this kind of incident, even after the terrorists cross (into Israel,)" Katz stressed.
"At the end of the day, we can see the system is working well. Yesterday we thwarted an attack in the northern Gaza Strip that was meant to target IDF soldiers, and this morning another attack was foiled that aimed to hit Israeli targets," he said.
"However, we're well prepared for what's happening, and in the last month alone we thwarted six attacks in the vicinity of the border fence and northern Strip," he said. "At the end of the day, in the past two years, with the exception of the incident near Kerem Shalom where Gilad Shalit was abducted, we thwarted the numerous attempted attacks by terror groups," he concluded.