Egyptian policeman infiltrates border, murders Israeli soldiers

Netanyahu vows to “thoroughly investigate” the incident, which Egypt claims was related to a drug-smuggling attempt.

By World Israel News Staff

Two Israeli soldiers were shot and killed by an Egyptian police officer on Saturday morning. A subsequent exchange of gunfire within Israeli territory later that day resulted in the death of the terrorist and a third Israeli soldier.

The IDF is currently investigating the circumstances, including the manner in which the Egyptian officer managed to cross into Israel from Egypt.

In a statement, the Egyptian army indicated that a border security officer pursued suspects believed to be involved in drug smuggling. “During the pursuit, he crossed the security barrier and an exchange of fire began, in which three Israeli security personnel were killed,” the statement read, expressing “sincere condolences” to the bereaved families.

Hours before the first two soldiers were killed by the attacker, IDF forces prevented an attempt to smuggle 1.5 million NIS worth of drugs across the border.

The deceased, all combat soldiers from Bardelas Battalion unit which secures the border with Egypt, were identified as Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, 19, from Rishon Lezion, and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, 20, from Safed. Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20, from Ofakim, was the soldier killed in the subsequent encounter with the gunman.

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Iluz and Ben Nun commenced a guard duty together late on Friday at a border post, according to the IDF spokesperson. Following unresponsive radio calls on Saturday morning, an officer arrived at the scene and found the two soldiers deceased, as per the IDF’s preliminary investigation.

The attacker infiltrated through the border using an emergency gate, the IDF said later on Saturday evening, adding that Iluz and Ben Nun did not return his fire.
Later, the IDF reported another gunfight in the Mount Harif area where the first attack occurred.

“During an encounter with a terrorist in Israeli territory, a short while ago, an exchange of fire unfolded. Troops and commanders engaged [the suspect] and shot and killed him,” the IDF announced.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “serious and unusual” incident that would be “thoroughly investigated.”

“I would like to praise our forces who strived to make contact and eliminate the terrorist. Our hearts are with the families in their deepest sorrow.”

IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi said at the end of an operational assessment: “This is a difficult incident, during which two IDF soldiers and a female soldier, one of our best sons and daughters, fell in an operational activity to maintain security on the Egyptian border. At the end of an exchange of fire, in which IDF fighters strove for contact, the terrorist was killed. The incident takes place at the border where operational activities are carried out every night.”

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Halevi added: “We are investigating the incident in a thorough and in-depth manner, together with the Egyptian army, and we will draw the necessary lessons. The male and female fighters fulfilled their role and prevented further damage to the Israeli forces and the Israeli home front through their activities. I would like to strengthen the families for the loss.”

Defense Minister Yoav Galant expressed his sorrow over the soldiers who “carried out their missions with dedication but still ended with dire results.”

At the request of the Egyptian side, Gallant spoke with his counterpart, Mohamed Zaki, and underlined the importance of not allowing the event to harm the security ties between the two countries.

The two agreed to continue to work to prevent terrorist incidents in the future and to strengthen the relationship between the countries.

President Isaac Herzog called the incident “horrifying.”

“There are no words to describe the pain and loss. Along with the entire nation, I send my sincere condolences to their families and join in their mourning at this difficult time. We will remember them and we will continue to defend our borders with determination,” he said.