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terror attack

Three IDF soldiers killed in shooting by Egyptian policeman on southern border

Israel investigating whether Egyptian border officer worked alone

(l-r) Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20, Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, 19, and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, Israeli soldiers killed in a shooting attack on the Egyptian border, June 3, 2023 (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

A security incident on the Israel-Egypt border this morning led to the killing of two Israeli soldiers, while a third soldier died in a firefight with the assailant. The event triggered a joint investigation by the two countries to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

Sergeant Lia Ben Nun and Staff Sergeant Uri Itzhak Ilouz were fatally shot at a guard post near the border by an Egyptian policeman. Their bodies were found after they failed to respond to their radios. Reinforcements were brought in and a search for the suspect was initiated. Staff Sergeant Ohad Dahan, who was part of that search operation, was killed in the exchange of fire with the suspect, who was also shot and killed.

Officials from the Israeli Defense Forces emphasized the need for cooperation, however, questions remain whether the Egyptian police officer who carried out the initial shooting acted independently or in connection with terror organizations. The incident has highlighted the challenges of maintaining security along the rugged border, which is the site of many smuggling and infiltration attempts.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant contacted his Egyptian counterpart to express the importance of a joint investigation to prevent future incidents. The IDF and the Egyptian army are currently working to determine whether the Egyptian suspect acted alone or was collaborating with terror groups.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and commended the actions of the Israeli forces. 

“The deadly incident on the Egyptian border over Shabbat was severe and irregular and will be investigated to the end,” Netanyahu said. “I would like to praise the forces who strived for contact and killed the terrorist. Together with the people of Israel, I offer condolences to the families of Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, St.-Sgt. Ohad Dahan and Ori Yitzhak Illouz, and wish recovery to the wounded. Our hearts are with the families in their deep grief.” 

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also released a statement on social media about the shooting, calling it a “difficult Shabbat.”

“Three soldiers, who left home to defend the State of Israel, fell during their activities by a vile murderer. I hurt, along with all the citizens of Israel, at their tragic death and send condolences to the family members who lost those dearest of all to them. The people of Israel love you, hug you, cry with you and feel your pain.” 

Israeli officials refrained from directly commenting on the Egyptian military's announcement, which did not categorize the shooting as an attack, but called the announcement “very strange and incomprehensible.” Instead, the officials focused on the cooperative investigation and said that the Israeli and Egyptian military and intelligence units were in regular contact regarding the drug smuggling incident which preceded the shooting.  

The Israel-Egypt border is prone to smuggling attempts. A drug smuggling incident was reported earlier in the vicinity, however, it is not yet known whether there is any connection between that smuggling event and the shooting. While the IDF continually prevents infiltration and smuggling attempts, the incident this morning shows the difficulties of securing the rugged, remote terrain. Smuggling routes, which contain deep valleys and blind spots, pose significant challenges.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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