Monday, June 18, 2012

18-Jun-12: They're attacking on Israel's Egyptian border again this morning

Two Israeli vehicles, carrying construction workers who are engaged on the construction of the new higher-security fence along the Israel-Egypt border, came under lethal semi-automatic and anti-tank fire this morning (Monday) from an Arab terrorist group that evidently infiltrated the border area with plans to cause serious trouble. The details of what happened are still not entirely clear at this point. But it does appear one of the Israeli civilian workers was killed by the infiltrators. 

Soldiers from the IDF's Golan Brigade were scrambled to the area in the initial response. A fire-fight resulted and three of the armed terrorists were killed. Initial reports say two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the shoot-out. At this moment (9 am), additional forces brought to the area are carrying out a search for the remaining terrorists.

Meanwhile civilian residents of the area - Kadesh Barnea and other towns in the immediate region - remain on high alert and have been instructed to remain in their homes. School buses have been told to return to their points of origin. 

Times of Israel says roads in the surrounding area and along the Egyptian border are now closed once again to civilian traffic, including Route 12 that was reopened recently. That road runs along Israel's Egyptian border from the northern Negev to Eilat and was closed down for seven months in August 2011 after a series of terror attacks that took the lives of eight Israelis. [For a reminder, see "29-Aug-11: No, it's not quiet in southern Israel tonight, and hasn't been for some time".] The road is now protected by observation posts and a heavy security fence, as well as by increased IDF patrols.

The site of this morning's terror attack is known as the "sand dunes sector," close to the notorious Tzir Philadelphi (or Philadelphi Route), a narrow strip of land, 14 km long, that tracks the border between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Egypt. Under both the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 and the 1995 Oslo Accords, the Philadelphi Route was treated as a buffer zone, controlled and patrolled by Israeli forces to prevent the movement of weapons, ammunition, illegal drugs and people between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. However under the Hamas regime, numerous smuggling tunnels were dug under the Philadelphi Route, and it is now a tense and difficult area from Israel's perspective.

Israel is constructing an enhanced security barrier on its
border with Egypt [Image Source]
Associated Press is reporting that the attack 
underscored the Egyptian government's increasing loss of control over the Sinai, where political turmoil, weak policing and difficult terrain have encouraged Islamic militant activity. Israel had been bracing for possible attacks from the area after rockets believed fired from Sinai struck southern Israel over the weekend... Israel has increased its surveillance on the Egyptian border and is building an electronic barrier along the 230-kilometer (150-mile) frontier in a bid to keep out both militants and illegal migrants from Africa.
Meanwhile the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is claiming victory in yesterday's presidential elections amid mutual claims of what are euphemistically called "voting irregularities". The certain and growing instability in Cairo is going to spur further cautious moves by Israel to protect us from the spreading chaos on our major southern border.

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