Thursday, August 18, 2011
Five killed in series of terrorist attacks in southern Israel
Several killed, dozens wounded after armed gunmen fired on bus traveling near Eilat, close to Egypt border; IDF and trades fire with gunmen; mortars are fired from Egyptian border; IDF kills several terrorists.
Five people were killed and dozens were wounded Thursday in a series of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets approximately 20 kilometers north of the southern city of Eilat, close to the border with Egypt.
The first attack, at around 12 P.M., was a drive-by shooting targeting Egged bus 392 traveling from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, near the Netafim junction.
Shortly afterward, IDF forces rushed to the scene and were faced with several explosive devices that were detonated alongside an IDF vehicle.
Simultaneously, an anti-tank missile was fired from Egypt on a private vehicle, and several mortar shells were also fired into Israel.
The IDF Spokesman reported that two to four terrorists were killed during the clashes.
According to reports, the terrorists in the car opened fire at the Egged bus, which carried a significant number of soldiers leaving their bases for the weekend.
In the aftermath of the first attack, Israeli security forces launched a search for the vehicle thought to have transported the gunmen, setting up barricades in the area. A firefight erupted once the IDF troops caught up with the vehicle, in which several of the armed men were killed.
Two IDF helicopters were called to the scene in order to evacuate those wounded to Yoseftal hospital in Eilat and to Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva.
Jerusalem (CNN) -- Attackers in southern Israel fired shots at a bus, assaulted an Israeli military force, and targeted another vehicle on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said.
At least five people were critically injured in the assault, which occurred about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Israeli city of Eilat -- close to the Israeli-Egyptian border.
Civilians and soldiers were hurt, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Israeli soldiers exchanged gunfire with the assailants, described by the IDF as "terrorists."
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio that after the bus attack, explosives were used against an IDF force that arrived at the scene. A vehicle was attacked, possibly with anti-tank rockets or mortars.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman, said gunmen were shooting from the car in the bus attack.
Leibovich said the next attack happened near the location of the first one, when a bomb was detonated as a second bus passed. She said the military thinks more than one team of assailants could have been responsible.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met to discuss the "grave attacks," the prime minister's office said.
Eilat is a resort town on Israel's southern tip, near Egypt's Sinai border. It generally has not endured the kind of strife faced by other regions including the swath of southern Israel near Gaza -- the coastal Palestinian territory just south of the Jewish state along its west coast.
Across the border, the Egyptian army and police are cracking down in an "anti-terror" operation in the Sinai area of Egypt, state-owned media reported on Tuesday, as reports emerge of Osama bin Laden's doctor surfacing in the area.
Police said they found hand grenades, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition in the operation that targets Sinai "terror cells" suspected in attacks on a gas pipeline to Israel and a police station in the border town of el-Arish.
One person was killed and 12 were arrested on Monday, the first day of the operation, said Hazem al-Maadawi, a police officer involved in the offensive.
Netanyahu told a Knesset committee recently that Egypt was having difficulty exercising its sovereignty over Sinai.
"What's happening in Sinai is that global terrorist organizations are meddling there and their presence is increasing because of the connection between Sinai and Gaza," Netanyahu said.
The Egyptian military presence in the demilitarized zone in Sinai under the Camp David Agreement signed in 1978 between Egypt and Israel raises many questions.
Paramedics arrive on scene, IDF soldiers among casualties; number of bombs go off near IDF patrol along border with Egypt; MDA: terrorists attack bus, private vehicle; PMO spokesperson: 3 terrorists killed.
A three-stage terrorist attack along Israel’s border with Egypt took place Thursday morning when terrorists opened fire at an Egged bus traveling on Road 12 near Eilat.
Close to 10 passengers were wounded, including several in serious and moderate condition, and were evacuated to Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat. A number of soldiers were among the casualties.
Several minutes later, a number of bombs went off next to an IDF patrol traveling along the border with Egypt. There were also reports of mortar fire from Egypt into Israel. The terrorists apparently then moved on to another spot and fired an anti-tank missile at another vehicle, injuring a number of passengers.
Magen David Adom said that terrorists attack a bus and private vehicle 20 kilometers north of the site of the first incident. Paramedics said five people there were mortally wounded.
PMO spokesperson Ofir Gendelman announced on Twitter that three of the terrorists involved in the attack were killed by special forces.
“This seems like a coordinated attack,” a senior IDF officer said. There was also speculation that there may have been more than one terror cell coordinating the attacks.
Commander of the IDF’s Edom Division Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yidayi arrived at the scene of the bus attack and set up a command post to coordinate efforts to capture the perpetrators. The IDF suspects that the terrorists infiltrated into Israel after crossing into Egypt possible from the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, the Egyptian Military launched a massive operation to capture terrorist cells operating in the Sinai.
Due to concern that terrorists had infiltrated into Israel from Egypt, security officers in Israeli communities along the border were ordered to raise the level of alert and to tell residents to remain inside their home.