Olmert Apologizes for Killing Egyptian Terrorists
IDF officers are resentful of Prime Minister Olmert's apology to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for the recent incident in which two Egyptian terrorists who shot at IDF forces were killed.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/5/2006, 11:25 AM / Last Update: 6/5/2006, 1:24 PM
Olmert met with Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday, and his first statement in their joint press conference was an apology for the incident and a declaration of a joint investigation.
"On behalf of the State of Israel," Olmert said, "I would like to express my deepest regret over the incident that occurred over the weekend in which two Egyptian security personnel were killed. We have initiated a joint committee to investigate the incident; we will consider its findings. Similarly, we have instructed our security and intelligence forces to cooperate on the issue and to make every effort to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in the future."
Arutz-7's military correspondent Kobi Finkler says that IDF officers familiar with the area in which the incident took place are upset and offended by Olmert's apology.
An IDF commanding officer at the scene described what happened:
"Today [Friday] at around 6 AM, our forces stationed here [Mt. Saguy, close to the Israeli-Egyptian Negev-Sinai border] were attacked by a 3-man terrorist cell, which opened fire at them. They quickly took positions of cover, opened fire and killed two of the terrorists. We later found that the terrorists were dressed in uniforms of a foreign army, and were equipped with radios and Kalachnikov rifles, and undoubtedly crossed the border in order to attack our forces."
An investigation shortly afterwards, with the participation of Southern District Command Chief Officer Gen. Yoav Galant, found that the terrorists had infiltrated
150 meters inside Israel, and were the first to fire in the gun battle in which they were killed. Nine magazines of bullets were also found alongside their bodies.
A commanding officer in the region told Finkler,
"Ever since the IDF left the Gaza Strip, we see an increasing phenomenon of terrorists who realize that the border with Gaza is closed nearly hermetically, and therefore try to infiltrate via Egypt and Sinai into Israel. We are catching increasingly high quantities of weapons and arms, and we can definitely say that this is something that must be addressed."
MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), who chaired the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee from 2003-2006, told Arutz-7 today,
"In general, we must stop our fawning and groveling before Egypt, whose behavior is the main cause of the massive smuggling of arms to Gaza. Egypt should apologize to us! 90% of all arms and explosives used in Judea, Samaria and Gaza for terrorism against us comes from Egypt. They are no different than Iran and Syria in their support for terrorism. Jordan succeeded in dealing with the arms smugglers, but Egypt somehow manages not to succeed in this."
"But what interest would Egypt have," Arutz-7 asked, "in sending weapons to Gaza? It is widely assumed that Egypt, like Israel, is against Hamas and does not want it to gain strength."
Shteinitz responded, "Who said so? I do not agree with this supposition. Egypt is not against Hamas, but is rather responsible for its growth in many ways."
Political analyst Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA noted that Olmert bent over backwards to lavish praise upon Mubarak - despite the fact that the latter continues to refuse to visit Israel, continues to ensure that radical forces in Gaza remain armed, and continues to spend billions of American aid dollars on sophisticated weaponry in apparent preparation for a future war against Israel.
Olmert said at last night's press conference,
"I see you, Mr. President [Mubarak], as a true partner in the effort to bring peace to our region... Your contribution is as vital as it was during the successful implementation of the Disengagement Plan.
"I am very pleased by the cooperation between our countries in the struggle against global terrorism... We have agreed to enhance cooperation and coordination between us and between our countries on this issue.
"...And lastly, permit me to take this opportunity to add something personal that is not in the written statement. Mr. President, this was a very moving personal experience for me to sit with you now for approximately 1.5 hours, to hold talks and to listen to one of the most experienced and important leaders that I have had the opportunity of meeting with. Bilateral relations between Israel and Egypt are very fundamental and very important to our worldview and to the network of relations that we want to build in the region, and the leadership of Hosni Mubarak is an important key to the success of this process."