An initial investigation carried out by the Israeli army on the armed attack that targeting a bus loaded with Israeli soldiers, close to the border with Egypt, in the Israeli coastal city of Eilat, revealed that information regarding an attack was available before it took place, but pointed out a possible kidnapping attempt, not a shooting. Seven Palestinians, including children, and seven Egyptian officers were killed by Israeli bombardment.The army stated that it found it difficult to deal with the information due to the large number of similar warnings, and that the military leadership estimated that the potential time for this attack would be at night, not in broad daylight.
The investigation also revealed that the attackers infiltrated into Israel through an area near an Egyptian military base, an unlikely location to infiltrate into Israel.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that this attack was planned by the Popular Resistance Committee in the Gaza Strip, and that the fighters managed to infiltrate from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai desert through tunnels, before they travelled nearly 200 kilometers to an area that is only protected with tattered wire fence, 15 kilometers north of Eilat. They then opened fire at a bus carrying Israeli soldiers north of Netafim Crossing.
Haaretz further stated that the soldiers managed to kill five of the fighters while the Egyptian Security Forces killed two others. Israel believes that at least 15-20
fighters participated in the attack, and that most of them managed to escape.
According to Haaretz, the driver of the bus said that the attackers were dressed in Egyptian military uniforms, and that he thought that they were just repairing the border fence.
Haaretz added that the attack was initiated at noon on Thursday, and that approximately 15 gunmen, armed with rifles, grenades and explosives, infiltrated into Israel from Egypt and stationed themselves 200 meters away from each other at the Eilat Highway, Route 12, close to the border.
They then opened fire at the bus around 12:30 afternoon, wounding seven passengers. Minutes later, an empty bus and several cars arrived at the scene, and came under fire from the fighters while one of the gunmen ran towards the bus before activating his explosive belt killing himself and the bus driver.
The gunmen reportedly infiltrated into Sinai through a tunnel before they headed to an area that is 200 kilometers away, that is only protected by a tattered wire-fence, just 15 kilometers north of Eilat.
The Israel army shot and killed five gunmen while Egypt reported that its border police shot and killed two others. The rest apparently managed to escape unharmed.
Israel said that one of the fighters even fired an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenades) at a military helicopter that arrived at the scene, but missed it.
Following the attack, Israel carried out several air strikes targeting a number of areas in different parts of the Gaza Strip killing seven Palestinians, including a 2 year old child and a teenager, aged 13. At least 19 residents, including children, were injured.
It is worth mentioning that Cairo stated that seven Egyptian officers were killed by Israeli military fire, targeting them in Sinai, while several others were injured.
Following the attack, a senior Egyptian military officer headed to Sinai along with several soldiers of the special brigades to assess the situation, especially since the Egyptian soldiers were in Egyptian territory close to the border and did not infiltrate into Israel.
Egypt says that an Israeli military helicopter chased the fighters in Egyptian territory and opened fire at them wounding Egyptian military personnel.
A massive protest is planned in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday where hundreds are expected to attend.
Lieutenant Al-Sayyed Abdul-Wahab Mabrook, north Sinai Governor, denied the Israeli claims regarding Palestinian fighters infiltrating into Egypt through the border before they headed to Eilat, and stated that these claims are impossible to believe, as he said Egypt has a firm grip on the border through traps and extensive military deployment.
Mabrook, who headed the Egyptian Border Police until he became the governor of North Sinai, stated that Egypt has full control over the border with Gaza, and that the extensive security presence was not affected by the regime change in Egypt.
He also stated that the border from Rafah in the north to Taba in the south is very long, and that Egypt’s security presence there prevents any suspects from infiltrating through the area.