"This is the worst attack we've seen since the disengagement," said IDF Southern Command Chief Major-General Yoav Galant Saturday, during a visit to the scene of the terror attack at the Kerem Shalom goods crossing.
Thirteen IDF soldiers were moderately to lightly wounded Saturday morning, as Palestinian gunmen detonated car bombs, fired mortar shells and opened fire on the troops, in what was deemed by the IDF as a foiled abduction attempt.
Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the group's military wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.
"This incident spanned the entire sector. It was an attempt to abduct and kill as many soldiers as possible," said Galant.
"Hamas is using Israel's generosity and goes after the crossings used to make sure vital Palestinian needs are met… the Palestinians must realize they will achieve nothing but operational disappointments with these kinds of attacks," he added.
Galant commended the soldiers' tenacity, saying their actions prevented what could have been a mass causality event. "This was a quality operation by the Bedouin troops and those joining them and most of all it's a demonstration of our commanders and soldiers' tenacity."
The IDF's assessment of Saturday's events concluded the attack was a "strategic" one, meant to disrupting Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. A senior IDF officer told Ynet that the terror cell's primary goal was to abduct Israeli soldiers.