Tel Aviv: Three Israeli soldiers were killed after a gunman wearing an Egyptian police officer uniform opened fire, in the first violent encounter along the border line in more than ten years, reported Al Jazeera.
According to the Israeli military, an Egyptian policeman opened fire and killed two soldiers early on Saturday while they were guarding a military post at the Egyptian border. Hours later, a confrontation on Israeli soil claimed the lives of an Egyptian officer and a third Israeli soldier.
According to the Egyptian military, an Egyptian border guard who was chasing drug smugglers breached the border security fence and engaged Israeli forces in gunfire.
A statement said, “A member of the security forces …. chased drug smugglers. During the chase the security agent crossed the security fence (border) and a gun battle ensued,” as per Al Jazeera.
The incident happened 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of where Israel’s border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip merge, close to the Nitzana and Al-Awja border crossing between Israel and Egypt. It is used to bring in merchandise from Egypt for Israel or the Gaza Strip.
Egypt’s Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki spoke to his Israeli counterpart during a phone call to discuss the shooting on the border, and “the mutual coordination to take measures to prevent such incidents in the future,” according to a statement issued by the Egyptian military.
Two soldiers were found dead at an Israeli military post after they did not respond to their radios. According to the Israeli army, one of the killed soldiers was a woman, according to Al Jazeera.
The army said, “During an encounter with an assailant in Israeli territory … an exchange of fire developed. Troops and commanders engaged (the suspect) and shot and killed him.”
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, claimed that after discussing the situation with the chief of staff, the military “will investigate the event as required.”
According to Eliezer Toledano, head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, the investigation would take into account the possibility that the killing was connected to smuggling activity.
“We promise to never leave any question unanswered,” Toledano said.
The Israeli military said that it is unknown how the Egyptian officer managed to get over the border fence, and soldiers were examining the area to rule out the possibility of any other attackers.
Egypt was the first Arab nation to establish tight security ties with Israel and sign a peace deal with it in 1979. Fighting along their shared border is rare, Al Jazeera reported.