A series of apparently coordinated attacks on Israeli civilians and military personnel has occurred near the port city of Eliat, on the border with Egypt, killing at least 5 people and injuring 14 more. From a Fox News report:
The attacks began when a gunmen opened fire on passenger bus near the Israeli-Egyptian border. Minutes later, a series of bombs exploded next to an Israel Defense Force patrol in the area. Gunmen then launched an anti-tank missile at another vehicle, injuring passengers inside, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel’s Channel 10 TV reports that a fourth attack has occurred.
[IDF spokesman Brig-Gen. Yoav] Mordechai also reported a shootout between security forces and assailants in the bus attack. The Israeli army says they have killed two of the suspected attackers.
The Jerusalem Post adds “reports of mortar fire from Egypt into Israel.” The Egyptian military began an operation to take down terrorist cells on their side of the border last Sunday, prompting the IDF to raise its alert level in the area, to deal with terrorists who might have crossed into Israeli territory.
The Egyptians say the Eliat attack did not originate on their side of the border, which doesn’t square with those reports of mortar fire. They claim to have bagged four terrorists working to blow up a gas pipeline in the Sinai during their operation.
Haaretz says the death toll is “six people killed and dozens wounded,” and says that in addition to the mortar fire, the anti-tank missile launched at the passenger bus originated from Egyptian territory. The first bus was attacked with machine guns in a “drive-by shooting,” and included a number of soldiers on leave among the passengers.
Who might these terrorists be? Back in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Egyptians that Hamas was taking advantage of the chaos in Cairo, and gaining strength in Egyptian territory. An al-Qaeda affiliate called the Army of Islam has also fought with Egyptian security forces in the area. The natural gas pipeline running through the Sinai draws terrorists the way the Alaskan pipeline attracts caribou.
As always during these all-too-frequent hours of bloodshed, I offer my prayers for the dead, and wish the IDF and Egyptian military good hunting.