The picture of Sunday night’s brazen attack on Egypt and Israel became clearer yesterday. A terrorist cell killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, stole two armored vehicles, and gunned it for the Israeli border. One of the vehicles exploded at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel. The other APC made it through—despite IDF gunfire—and went almost a mile into Israeli territory before the Israeli Air Force(!) blew up the vehicle. The gunmen were found to be wearing suicide belts and had been hurtling toward an Israeli kibbutz when the IAF complicated their plans.
The good news is that the Shin Bet had been made aware of the threat days before the attack. Nearby residents were warned, and a coordinated effort of ground, air, and armored troops succeeded in thwarting the attack. No Israeli lives were lost. Amazingly, it was also the first time that the Israeli Air Force had ever fired upon a target within Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following about the attack:
“I think it’s clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in keeping the border quiet,” said Netanyahu. “Having said that, it becomes clear time after time that when it comes to the safety of Israeli citizens, Israel must and can rely only on itself. No one can fulfill this role except the IDF and different Israel security forces of Israel and we will continue to conduct ourselves like that.”
The following day both the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas unsurprisingly blamed Israel for the attack, saying it was the Mossad and that the attack had been aimed to divide Egyptians and Palestinians. More distressing than this blame-Israel boilerplate, seemingly used for anything bad that ever seems to happen, was the ham-fisted response by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, who tweeted this:
“Iranian backed terrorists again struck at our Southern border today killing 15 Egyptian guards and attempting to massacre Israeli civilians Terrorists also shelled Israeli farms and towns along the border.”
“The thwarted attack underscores the length to which the extremist regime in Iran will attempt to kill innocent Israelis.”
Hours later, this claim having been disproven—it was a group linked to al-Qaida and not funded by Iran—Oren deleted the tweets without explanation. Couple this with Netanyahu’s not-so-subtle statement above and you have an Israeli government that seems to be undercutting its own credibility by jumping to blame Iran here. Iran is obviously a major threat. But so is al-Qaida and so is a destabilized Egypt.
Terrorists were more than a kilometer inside Israel [Times of Israel]
Egypt Brotherhood, Hamas Blames Israelis for Sinai Attack [JPost]
Envoy Oren retracts tweet tying Iran to Sinai attacks [JPost]