6 Guards Dead, 5 Wounded in Multi-Pronged Terror Attack

Six civilian security guards were killed in Thursday night's multi-pronged terror attack at Gaza’s Karni Crossing. Terrorists blew up a separation wall and ran through, shooting in all directions.

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Shortly before 11 pm Thursday, a truck laden with explosives backed up to the separation wall on the PA side of the crossing and detonated 150 kilograms (330 lbs.) of explosives, creating a large hole. Three suicide bombers armed with grenades, guns and bombs ran in through the opening towards the Israeli side, firing their weapons and throwing grenades. The surprised Israel Airports Authority guards returned fire, reportedly killing one of the terrorists. The others then blew themselves up.

The rescue efforts were significantly hampered and endangered, and at times brought to a complete halt, by the continuing Arab gunfire. There were also reports of mortar shells being directed at arriving rescue forces, and the attack was declared "terminated" more than two full hours after it began. Reinforced Magen David Adom ambulances could be seen on TV footage making trips back and forth, often under fire.

The dead - four Jews and two Arabs - were civilian employees at the crossing. Three of them were from Sderot, and will be buried today. Their names: Ivan Shmilov, 53, Dror Gizri, 31, and Herzl Shlomo. The three other victims were Ofer Tiri, 23, from Ashkelon, whose family was preparing to celebrate his nephew's Bar Mitzvah this Sabbath; Munam Abu-Sabiye, 33, from Daburiye; and Ibrahim Kahili, 46, from Um al-Ghanem.

Two of the wounded are listed in serious condition at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.

Three different Palestinian terror organizations - Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigade, the Popular Resistance Committee, and Hamas - claimed joint responsibility for the attack. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA's newly-elected chairman, has not issued a statement of condemnation. Other PA figures criticized the attack for its timing and for harming the "lifeline" of the PA, i.e., the crossing points.

A senior Al-Aqsa Brigade commander released a message stating that the original plan was to take hostages and hold them ransom for an exchange for terrorists imprisoned in Israel. In the event, however, the terrorists blew themselves up, for reasons that are not clear.

Israel Air Force helicopters reportedly targeted Hamas objectives in Gaza in a retaliatory move shortly after the attack.

The Karni Crossing is one of several crossing points between Gaza and the rest of Israel. Trucks arriving with goods for either side are loaded and unloaded in a back-to-back method; a wall with openings separates between the trucks on the Israeli and PA sides. Just this week, as part of the gestures towards the PA, Israel began to keep the crossing open until 11 PM, in an effort to allow the delivery of more goods - clothing, food and construction materials - from international bodies to the PA. The terrorists struck just minutes before the end of the extra shift.

The Karni Crossing has been closed until further notice. The Rafiah Crossing has been closed for several weeks, following a terror attack there.

Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the Karni Crossing several times in the past, most recently murdering Sgt. Nadav Kodinsky, and wounding four other soldiers when they planted a bomb nearby. Two workers, including an Arab from Shuafat in Jerusalem, were murdered in a terror attack at Karni in April 2003.

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