August 6, 2012
Barak calls Sinai attack, border infiltration a ‘wake-up call’ for Egypt
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called a terrorist attack in the Sinai that killed at least 15 Egyptian soldiers a “wake-up call” for Egypt.
“We hope this will be a fitting wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters into their own hands on their side more forcefully,” Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Aug. 6, a day after the attack.
Armed attackers in the Sinai Peninsula killed the soldiers at the Rafah security checkpoint before attempting to infiltrate the Israeli border.
The attackers, who Barak identified as members of the Global Jihadi terror group, also kidnapped several Egyptian soldiers on the evening of Aug. 5, according to reports. Two of the vehicles used in the attack then crossed the border into Israel. The first was blown up by the terrorists to breach the fence, and the second was targeted and hit by Israeli forces, according to the Israeli military.
The six terrorists in the vehicle were killed in the blast. Barak said they were all wearing suicide bomber belts.
Israeli intelligence had information on the planned attack, which allowed the military to have helicopters in the area to strike the vehicle, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said Monday.
Israel and Egypt remained in close contact during the attack, Barak said, according to reports.
Barak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the area of the attack on Aug. 6. Netanyahu met with commanders and soldiers who were involved in the operation, and praised them for their actions. He also expressed regret over the killing of the Egyptian soldiers.
“I think that it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in maintaining a quiet border,” Netanyahu said. “However, as has been made clear on numerous occasions, when it comes to the security of the citizens of Israel, the State of Israel must and can rely only on itself. Nobody can fulfill this role other than the IDF and the security services of the State of Israel, and this is how we will continue to act.”
Also on Aug. 6, Israel’s Foreign Ministry denied accusations by the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist party in Egypt that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency was behind the attack in an attempt to disrupt the new Islamist government of President Mohammed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood statement also reportedly called for a review of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, according to reports.
On Aug. 3, the U.S. Embassy in Israel called on American citizens to “take precautions” in traveling to the Sinai. The warning came a day after Israel’s National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau called on “all Israelis in the Sinai to leave the area immediately and return home.”
The embassy’s security message pointed out that there have been multiple kidnappings in the Sinai of U.S. citizens over the past four years and that kidnappings of foreign tourists in the Sinai have increased since January 2012.
U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the Sinai, except by air to Sharm el Sheik.