Two Israelis riding on bicycles crossed the southern border into Egypt near the town of Azzouz Monday night, startling the defense establishment who feared the incident may have been a kidnapping. The Israelis were detained by Egyptian soldiers, and taken in for questioning.
The two were transferred back to Israel in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and were questioned once again by Israeli police. The two told the Dimona Police that they had crossed the border willingly as a daring act before their enlistment to the military.
The two also seem to have been beaten in their investigation in Egypt, as bruises were found on their bodies.
At 9:20 pm Monday, the Ramat Negev Regional Council received a report from the IDF of concerns that two cyclists were abducted. The two, aged 19, left on their bicycles from the Nitzana Youth Village several hours earlier and travelled south.
IDF forces launched searches for fear of an attempted kidnapping, in a region where a number of criminal sources, as well as terror networks, operate. Shortly after the search was launched, it became apparent that the two were arrested by Egyptian security forces, who were quick to send them back to Israel.
Security cameras at an outlook in the area documented the two cyclists, and showed an Egyptian soldier apparently pointing his weapon at them. The two then crossed the border with the soldier, leaving their bicycles at the border. Israeli security forces tried to use the bicycles to identify the detainees.
Shortly after the arrest the Egyptians notified Israel that the two were detained by local forces. The IDF then began efforts to retrieve them. Security forces noted that the procedure was a complicated one, as the Egyptians asked to question the Israelis before sending them back across the border.
Ramat Negev Regional Council head Shmulik Rifman said that an operations room was opened in the council. "Each and every community checked who was accounted for and who wasn’t. The IDF informed us that it was deploying forces to the area," he said, adding that if there was a fence at the border, this incident would not have occurred.
The border with Egypt is considered relatively calm, but is concerning to security and political bodies, since it does not include a physical barrier. This enables the infiltration of refugees, as well as the smuggling of woman, drugs and weapons.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report