Egypt and Israel are to hold emergency security meetings after yesterday’s cross-border shootout which left three Israeli soldiers and an Egyptian policeman officer dead, Egypt Independent reported.
The incident, which was the first deadly gun battle along the Egypt-Israel border in over a decade, involved an Egyptian police officer who is said to have crossed the border into southern Israel, killing two Israeli soldiers in a guard post. The officer was later killed in a second exchange of fire, during which a third soldier was killed. A fourth soldier, a non-commissioned officer was also lightly wounded in the attack.
It reportedly took place around the Nitzana border crossing, located about 40 km southeast of the point where Israel’s borders with Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip converge.
A statement issued by the Egyptian military said that, “At dawn, on Saturday, one of the security personnel in charge of securing the international border line chased drug smuggling elements, and during the pursuit, the security personnel breached the security barrier and exchanged fire.”
“This led to the death of three Israeli security personnel and the wounding of two others, in addition to the death of one Egyptian security personnel during the exchange of fire,” the statement added.
“All search, inspection and securing measures are being taken in the area, as well as taking legal measures regarding the incident.”
According to the Israeli military, the fighting erupted when soldiers thwarted a drug-smuggling attempt at the border. Unconfirmed reports have attributed the attack to a previously unknown group calling itself “Egypt Shield” who have claimed responsibility reported to Al-Manar.
Jerusalem Post noted that shooting “is a reminder of the threats that have come from this region in the past.”
“In general, the last decade has seen a reduction in these threats as Egypt’s military has brought peace and stability to much of the Sinai. However, drug smuggling and other issues continue to be a problem along the long border between Israel and the peninsula.”