Gunmen enter Israel through Egypt, kill 7

Squads of gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on last Thursday and attacked buses, cars and an army patrol, officials said. It was one of the boldest attacks on the Jewish state in years, killing seven Israelis and stocking concerns about Palestinian militants exploiting instability in Egypt.

The attacks began around midday and lasted for about three hours. Israeli security forces tracked down some of the assailants and killed seven in a gun battle, military spokesman Lt Col Avital Leibovich said. Defence officials said three bodies were booby trapped and Israeli TV channels said seven attackers were killed. There was no immediate word on whether any were captured alive or exactly how many in all were involved.

Israel almost immediately said the attackers came from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and made their way through Sinai, which borders both Israel and Gaza. That raised the specter of an Israeli military reprisal against the Palestinian territory. Egypt and Hamas denied the allegations. “The incident underscores the weak Egyptian hold on Sinai and the broadening of the activities of terrorists,” Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said. “The real source of the terror is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force.”

The attacks, which came close together in time and location, appeared coordinated. It was the deadliest assault in Israel since a Palestinian gunman entered a religious seminary in Jerusalem in March 2008 and killed eight people before he was shot dead himself. Security in Sinai has deteriorated sharply since February, when longtime leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising.

You might also be interested in

The 3 Week Diet