Israel submitted on Saturday an apology to Egypt over the death of three Egyptian soldiers who were killed by the Israeli army on Thursday following the Eilat attack carried out by gunmen who infiltrated into Israel and killing eight Israeli soldiers and wounding 30 others.The apology was submitted by Israel’s former ambassador to Cairo, Shalom Cohen, who also informed Egypt that Israel accepts conducting a joint Israeli-Egyptian investigation into the issue.
Cohen went to Egypt not as an envoy dispatched by the Israeli government, but as the acting ambassador, as the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, is currently not in Cairo.
Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, expressed Saturday “sorrow over the death of three Egyptian soldiers” who were killed by Israeli army fire following the Eilat attack.
Barak added that he instructed “specialized departments” to hold an investigation into the issue, and to conduct a separate joint investigation in cooperation with Egypt.
He said that “the recent escalation carried out by fighters in Gaza is a very serious escalation”, and added that “the army managed to kill most of the fighters who carried the attack out, and those who sent them”.
The Israeli Defense Minister further stated that Israel values that Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, adding that this peace deal has a great value in maintaining stability in the Middle East.
In Cairo, approximately 10.000 protestors took off to the streets and held a massive protest in front of the Israeli embassy demanding its closure, and demanding that all those responsible for the death of the Egyptian soldiers be punished for their crime.
In related news, the Israeli Defense Ministry decided too step-up the construction of the “security wall” it is building along the border with Egypt in order to conclude the constructions six months earlier than the planned timeframe.
Israeli paper, Maariv, reported that Barak ordered hiring additional contractors in order to speed-up the construction and conclude it before the end of 2012, instead of the original schedule for 2013.
Israel built the wall so far on nearly 45 kilometers, yet, under the new plan, additional 100 kilometers will be built before the end of this year, and additional 200 kilometers will be built on a stretch from Eilat to Karem Abu Salem Crossing with Gaza by the end of next year.
On Saturday evening, Palestinian Legislator of Hamas in Gaza, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, stated that the Palestinian people are defending themselves, and that the firing of shells and missiles into Israel is an act of retaliation to the ongoing Israeli attacks and crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Bahar further stated that “Israel mistakenly believes that Gaza is the weakest link in the current situation”, adding that the resistance will defend its people.
Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza fired near 37 shells and several Grad missiles into Israel since Thursday leading to the injury of 13 Israelis, including four who suffered serious wounds.
Israeli sources reported on Saturday evening that at least one Israeli was killed and four others were seriously injured when fighters in Gaza fired rockets into Beersheba, south of the country.
Following the Eilat attack, Israeli carried several air strikes targeting several areas in the Gaza Strip, killing 15 Palestinians, including several children, in 24 hours, and injuring at least 40 others. Two senior fighters were also among the dead.
On Friday evening, Ismail Haniyya, Prime Minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, contacted the Emir ot Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and informed him of the latest situation in Gaza.
Earlier on Friday, Haniyya phoned official in Egypt, the head of the Arab League Dr. Nabil Al Arabi, and the United Nations urging them to stop the Israeli escalation, the Palestine-Info reported.