Israeli sources have confirmed the death of two Israeli soldiers fatally shot by an Egyptian Border Police officer who was killed later after killing a third Israeli soldier and injuring one. In an official statement, the General Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces said the soldier was chasing drug smugglers before crossing the border fence.
Update: June 4, 2023, 22:30: The Egyptian Border Police officer has been identified as Mohammad Salah, 22, from Ein Shams area in Cairo.
Israeli sources claimed the Egyptian officer “infiltrated the fence into Israel” before killing a male and a female soldier and later killed another soldier in an exchange of fire before he was killed.
The Israeli army described the situation as “complex and difficult,” adding that the issue is being investigated.
Various media agencies claimed that the Egyptian soldier infiltrated the border intending to kill Israeli border police officers and added that a joint Israeli-Egyptian investigation is taking place.
Mohammad Zaki, the Defense Minister and the General Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces, issued the following statement: “On Saturday dawn, one of the soldiers in charge of securing the border chased drug smugglers, and in the process, he crossed the border with Israel and exchanged fire with the Israeli border police, killing three and wounding two before he was shot dead.”
The spokesperson added that investigations into the incident are ongoing, in addition to ongoing searches to secure the area….”
Zaki also contacted his Israeli counterpart to discuss the details of the deadly incident, to “exchange condolences for the victims on both sites,” and to “conduct all needed measures to ensure preventing similar incidents in the future.”
Israeli Ynet News said the southern border area with Egypt witnesses numerous smuggling attempts dealt with by the soldiers stationed across the 200 km of the border with Sinai but added that it is still unclear whether a connection exists between the drug smuggling attempt and the deadly shooting.
The Ynet said that at 2:30 at dawn on Saturday, the soldiers intercepted a smuggling attempt worth about 1.5 million Shekels and added that the area is three kilometers from where the deadly shooting occurred.
The Israeli army published pictures of the soldiers who were killed in the incident and identified them as Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20, was killed in the gunfight that killed the Egyptian soldier, Sgt. Lia Ben-Nun, 19, and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, 20.
The Israeli army believes the male and the female soldiers who were deployed in the Negev Desert were fired upon separately outside their post, adding that the issue remained unknown until the morning when they failed to respond to radio calls, and more soldiers were dispatched to their location and found them dead at about 8 in the morning.
The army claimed that the soldiers searched the area and killed the Egyptian soldier in the ensuing exchange of fire, in which a third Israeli soldier was killed and a fourth suffered minor wounds.