Corporal Netanel Yahalomi, 20, is the soldier who was killed in Friday’s terrorist attack near the Israel-Egypt border, it was cleared for publication on Friday afternoon. Another IDF soldier was moderately injured in the attack.
The attack occurred when three armed terrorists opened fire at IDF soldiers who were patrolling along the Israel-Egypt border. Yahalomi, a combat fighter of the Artillery Corps from Nof Ayalon died from his wounds.
Private Netanel Yahalomi was raised to the rank of Corporal following his death. He will be laid to rest on Saturday night at the military cemetery in Modi'in.
The attack took place around noon Friday. Heavy exchanges of fire ensued, during which the terrorists were killed.
One of the terrorists reportedly detonated himself in the attack.
An initial investigation showed that the terrorists entered into Israel through an area where there is no security fence and that they were heavily armed.
Large IDF forces converged on the location of the firefight, in the Har Harif area, and engaged the terrorists until they were eliminated.
"A very large terror attack was prevented," said IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. "The terrorists apparently intended to infiltrate the territory of the state of Israel. They were found with explosive belts, vests and guns." According to Voice of Israel government-sponsored radio, he said the terrorists intended to blow themselves up amidst soldiers.
Brig. Gen. Mordechai said it was not known yet which terror group carried out the attack. He added that the IDF is certain that no other terrorists are on the loose inside Israel. The section of the border where the incident occurred is the last one in which the security fence has not been completed. Construction there is expected to end later this year.
"They opened fire toward IDF troops that were guarding the workers (building the security fence) in that area. Another force that was nearby... rushed to the area and targeted those three terrorists," said military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, according to AFP. "A very big terror attack was thwarted by the response of these soldiers."
The IDF is holding a situation assessment following the attack.
In Egypt, a security source and witnesses reported hearing an explosion followed by heavy gunfire.
Border security incidents have increased over the past 18 months as a wave of lawlessness has gripped the Sinai since the overthrow of veteran Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
On August 5, Islamist militants staged a bloody ambush on an Egyptian security post, killing 16 border police before crashing an armored vehicle and a truck through the Israeli border fence where they were killed by troops.
Six weeks earlier, at least three militants had on June 18 sneaked across the border from Sinai and ambushed two cars carrying Israeli construction workers, killing one and sparking a firefight with the army in which two of the gunmen died. The third fled back to Egypt.
The most serious incident for the Jewish state took place in August 2011, when another group of gunmen from Sinai infiltrated southern Israel and staged a series of ambushes that killed eight Israelis.
Israel has accused Gaza-based militants of using the Sinai as a launching pad for cross-border attacks and has demanded that Egypt crack down on Islamist elements in the lawless peninsula.
In a bid to prevent such attacks, as well as the entry of illegal immigrants from Africa, Israel has been working on the construction of a massive steel barrier along its border with the Sinai.