Monday, August 06, 2012

6-Aug-12: Understanding last night's terror attacks

This morning, the IDF showed some of the weapons that
the Gazan attackers had been carrying [Image Source]

The terrorist attack on an Egyptian police facility in Sinai and the rocketing/mortaring of Israel's Kerem Shalom look different in daylight compared with last night. 

What appears to have happened is that Palestinian Arab terrorists from Gaza carried out an attack intended to allow them to cross Israel's border and conduct the mayhem of which they and their kind dream inside Israel. They managed to kill 16 Egyptian soldiers, and commandeered two Egyptian vehicles - one an armored personnel carrier (APC), the other a truck filled with explosives [source]. They drove these to the nearby border and were subsequently stopped by Israeli forces who killed some, all or most of them - not clear yet. Israeli forces have been searching during the night and morning hours and the last we heard (it's now noon) the searching continues. There are no Israeli casualties, fortunately. Residents of the Israeli communities in the area were instructed to stay inside their homes late into the night.

The Israeli security forces had advance intelligence on plans for an attack, the IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordechai said. Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo, the O/C Southern command, was at the scene... The gunmen launched the attack around 8 p.m. while the Egyptian troops were breaking their Ramadan fast. After gunning down the Egyptian soldiers, the terrorists commandeered the two Egyptian vehicles, and tried to smash through the border into Israel at the Kerem Shalom crossing, reportedly firing as they moved. The first vehicle was said to have exploded on the Egyptian side of the border crossing. The second vehicle moved towards Israel and the IAF blew it up. Conflicting initial reports spoke of three to six terrorists who were killed by Israeli army troops, the Army Spokesman said.  A spokesman for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh condemned the attack on Egyptian soldiers and said officials had sealed off all smuggling tunnels on the Strip’s border with Sinai to prevent the perpetrators from leaving Egypt, according to Israel Radio. The official, Yussuf Rizka, claimed there was no evidence that the attackers came from Gaza. He added that Hamas would cooperate with the Egyptian military regarding the incident. Egyptian and Israeli media said Gaza-based Palestinians were involved in the attack. An Egyptian border official said the Rafah terminal between Egypt and Gaza had been closed indefinitely. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s office issued a statement offering his condolences to the families of the dead and saying the “cowardly” attack will not go “without a response.” “Those who carried out this crime will pay dearly,” Morsi’s statement said. Morsi met with military chiefs in the wake of the incident. In an interview on Egyptian state TV early Monday after the meeting, the president said orders had been issued to arrest the perpetrators. “There is no room for appeasing this treason, this aggression and criminality,” Morsi said. “The troops will totally control Sinai.” In a statement issued late Sunday, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptian authorities to take all necessary measures to “confront this serious challenge to Egyptian sovereignty and to protect Sinai from all armed groups.”
Reuters is saying this morning that Egypt's Rafah border crossing with Gaza has been closed "indefinitely" according to Egypt's state news agency MENA. Contrary to the Hamas statement we quoted above, the Egyptians are saying "the attack was staged by militants who infiltrated from Gaza through tunnels and others from the Sinai region". It quotes a journalist based in North Sinai saying Egyptian security forces have sealed off the Rafah area, blocking the road from el-Arish in the direction of the Gaza border.

Meanwhile, according to the Gaza-based GANSO website, the terrorists of Gaza fired two short-range Qassam explosive rockets (GANSO calls them HMR's), and six mortars into whatever parts of Israel they could reach this morning. The only confirmation we can locate from the Israeli side came in the past hour with this report of two Qassam rockets exploding in open spaces in the Hof Ashkelon region; 19 communities are located in that region including five kibbutzim, eleven moshavim, two communal settlements and a youth village. Thankfully, none of them was hit.

The image below, just in, shows the destroyed Egyptian APC from last night's aborted attack. May all the designs of all the terrorists end as badly as this one did.

Burned-out Egyptian Armored Personnel Carrier [Image Source: IDF]: Terror attack thwarted

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