Soldier wounded in gun battle with smugglers on Egyptian border

Some 20 drug smugglers were discovered and a fire fight ensued in which one smuggler was killed and several others wounded.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An IDF soldier was lightly wounded late Monday night when her unit discovered a group of suspected drug smugglers on the Egyptian border south of the Gaza Strip.

“Approximately 20 suspects, including a number of armed men, arrived a short time ago from Egyptian territory to the border area near Pit’hat Nitsana, apparently with the aim of smuggling drugs into the country,” said the IDF’s Arabic spokesman, Lieut. Col. Avichay Adraee. “IDF soldiers operating in the area opened fire on the armed men and several hits were identified.”

Channel 14 reported that one trafficker was killed in the incident and several others were injured.

Nitzana is the 25 miles south of Rafah, the only crossing into Gaza from Egypt. It is where aid trucks are examined for military contraband before being allowed into the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian army spokesman announced Tuesday that its forces had thwarted the drug smuggling attempt. He also said that one person was killed and added that six of the smugglers had been arrested.

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The IDF began a thorough scan of the area to ensure that no terrorists had infiltrated during the clash. Last June, an Egyptian border police officer murdered three IDF soldiers, two of them in their border pillbox, penetrating the security fence hours after the IDF had spoiled an attempt to smuggle NIS1.5 million worth of drugs across the border.

The southern border fence is constantly patrolled by specially trained army forces as there are hundreds of attempts per year to sneak illegal goods into Israel, most of it in the form of drugs, but also weapons.

Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of contraband have been confiscated in recent years, but Israel acknowledges that it has probably not been able to prevent many of the runs, in which the criminals often race up to the fence, throw their packages over it and zoom away, while their partners come to pick up the delivery.