Arieh O'Sullivan
The Media Line
August 18, 2011 - 12:00am

In a series of coordinated attacks along Israel’s border with Egypt on Thursday, terrorists killed at least seven Israelis and wounded dozens more, including civilians and soldiers.

The Israeli army said they had “targeted” seven of the gunmen in the attack, which will likely raise Israeli concerns in the stability of Egypt to retain control over an increasingly lawless Sinai.

"This was a grave terror attack at multiple locations. It reflects Egypt's weakening grip on Sinai and widening of actions by terror elements," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement. "This terror attack originated from Gaza. We will act against them with our full might and determination.”

Israel Army radio said gunmen opened fire at a civilian bus travelling the highway to the southern resort town of Eilat. At the same time, an army vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb while another vehicle was hit by a rocket in what appeared to be coordinated attacks launched from Egypt.

“I can confirm at this moment that seven terrorists were targeted by Israeli soldiers. The exchange of fire is still on going right now,” Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovitz, an Israeli army spokeswoman told The Media Line.

“We are looking at a terrorist squad that had infiltrated from Gaza into Israel and committed these series of terrorist events,” Leibovitz added. “I can confirm that they came from Gaza.”

Israel Army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Israel Radio that the infiltration was made possible due in part to the current lawlessness in Egypt’s Sinai region adjacent to Israel.

The attacks took place some 20 kilometers north of Eilat, which is on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba where the borders of Jordan, Israel and Egypt meet. The incident comes days after Egypt deployed about 1,000 soldiers into the Sinai region in an attempt to crackdown on increasing belligerent attacks by indigenous Bedouin.

Hamas denied responsibility for the attack, but warned Israel against attacking Gaza.

"Hamas has a clear strategy of fighting the occupation inside occupied Palestine and does not assume responsibility outside its borders," Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil told the Palestinian Information Center.

Despite their statement, both activists from Hamas the Islamic Jihad organization were reportedly abandoning their positions in fear of an Israeli reprisal.

The attack put the country on high alert and breaks a relatively extended period without major attacks on Israelis. However, saboteurs have blown up the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipeline at least five times in as many months.


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