IDF Expects Major Terror Attack from Sinai

Hundreds of terrorists in Sinai recently expressed allegiance to ISIS – and the IDF is preparing for the worst, including in Eilat.

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Kobi Finkler, Gil Ronen,

Remains of Egyptian firefight in Sinai with t
Remains of Egyptian firefight in Sinai with t
Reuters

The IDF is preparing for possible multi-pronged terror attacks from the Sinai, a senior officer has told reporters.

The Deputy Commander of the IDF's Border Division, Col. Arik Hen, said Thursday that the IDF is making preparations for scenarios that include infiltration from the sea, infiltration with vehicles rigged with explosives, deployment of human bombs, missile fire and coordinated simultaneous attacks.

In a tour with military affairs reporters, Hen said that the threat from Sinai grew since the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Makdis organization declared allegiance to Islamic State, or ISIS.

Several hundred terrorists are thought to be operating in Sinai but there is a lack of intelligence information about their activities, he admitted. He added that there has been a noticeable rise in the volume of drug smuggling across the border, in which Israelis are also involved. The smuggling can escalate into a security incident, he explained: in the course of the past year, there were 28 cases in which shots were fired at IDF soldiers.

"The Eilat, Nitzana and Dead Sea sectors are the three big centers where millions of people and tourists pass,” Hen said. “Our watershed event was the attack at Ein Netafim, in which eight people were killed. Since then, we have arrived at every event in much stronger forces.”

"We do not know something concrete about ISIS,” he said, “but we understand that the basic scenario has changed to a multi-pronged terror attack that will involve dozens of terrorists. This demand a proper response. We are building our forces accordingly.”

According to Hen, reports that said the terrorists had recently stopped producing rockets are not necessarily true.

The eastern border with Jordan, he said, is a peaceful one, and relations with the Jordanians are “at a high level.”

The terror attacks at Ein Netafim took place August 18, 2011. In the first attack, three terrorists ambushed Egged bus #392 about 30 kilometers from Eilat as it traveled on Route 12 from Be'er Sheva towards the city, opening fire with automatic weapons. Most of the passengers in the bus were IDF soldiers heading to the Red Sea resort city on leave. They fired back at the terrorists as the bus kept driving.

The terrorists targeted a second Egged bus less than an hour later, and one of them served as a human bomb, blowing himself up and killing the bus's driver. 

The terrorist then fired at two civilian cars, killing one person in the first car and four in the second. First Sergeant Moshe Naftali of Ofra was killed in a firefight with the terrorists, and a counter-terrorism Border Police officer, Pascal Avrahami, was killed later by sniper fire aimed at him from across the border.