Israeli intelligence prevented a catastrophe by forewarning soldiers of Sunday night’s terrorist attack, which was foiled at the border.
“We were not surprised,” said IDF spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai. He pointed out that the IDF was prepared for an imminent attack and that soldiers had increased patrols along the border with Gaza.
The Air Force bombed the terrorists’ vehicle within minutes after the jihadists used another vehicle laden with explosives to kill 16 Egyptian border soldiers before heading for Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing. Five terrorists died in the IAF strike.
Israel’s knowledge of an imminent attack was signaled last week when the Counterterrorist Bureau issued an urgent warning, in addition to previous ones, for Israeli tourists to return immediately from the Sinai Peninsula.
The terrorists behind the well-planned attack are engaged in a war against Hamas, which only three weeks ago received a red-carpet welcome in Egypt by newly-elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
Hamas’ failure to deliver on its promise to provide security at Egypt’s northeastern border achieved exactly the results the terrorist wanted – closure of the Gaza-Egyptian border at Rafiah and proving to Egypt that Hamas cannot be trusted.
The terrorists failed in their second objective – to kill Israelis – and may have unwittingly paved the way for Egypt to tone down its anti-Israel venom because of Cairo’s need for security in the Sinai.
De facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh quickly denied that any terrorists from Gaza were involved in Sunday night’s lethal attack on Egypt soldiers, but Hamas also said it could not eliminate the possibility that terrorists from within Gaza had crossed into the Sinai and joined other jihadists. Hamas immediately closed all smuggling tunnels after the attack, which came only one week after the Palestinian Authority released a Hamas terrorist who is wanted in Egypt.
Morsi vowed to “re-take the Sinai,” which has been carved up by Bedouin, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad and other terrorists. However, he has no chance of doing so without cooperation from Israeli intelligence and border patrols.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, several months ago, that the Sinai had become a lawless “Wild West.” The terrorists are mostly members of Bedouin tribes who long complained of neglect by the government in Cairo, according to Egyptian security experts quoted by Reuters.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for "determined Egyptian action" to "prevent terror in Sinai.”
Morsi went on state television after the attack and said, "Clear orders have been given to our armed forces and police to chase and arrest those who carried out this assault on our children. The forces will impose full control over these areas of Sinai."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the IDF for its quick action in eliminating the terrorists and preventing casualties to Israelis.
"Whoever intends to attack us must know that our long arm will find him," he said in a statement via Twitter.