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Gallant, Egyptian counterpart talk following border killings

Cairo is not treating the shooting as a terrorist incident; Egyptian defense minister expresses condolences for "deaths on both sides."

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi. Credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi. Credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with his Egyptian counterpart on Saturday evening following the killing of three IDF soldiers by an Egyptian policeman at the Israel-Egypt border.

“I spoke this evening with my Egyptian counterpart, Minister Mohamed Zaki. I emphasized the importance of our cooperation in the investigation of the severe attack in which three IDF troops were killed,” Gallant tweeted on June 3.

“We agreed to work together to prevent terrorism along our border and to further strengthen defense ties between our countries,” he added.

Zaki expressed his “condolences for the deaths on both sides.”

According to Ynet, the Egyptian army’s version of events is that one of its policemen entered Israeli territory in pursuit of a drug trafficker. Cairo is not treating the shooting as a terrorist incident, nor has it defined the Egyptian policeman as a terrorist.

However, Army Radio reported on Sunday that the Egyptian policeman had in his possession six ammunition magazines for his rifle, a Koran, and a knife. The IDF estimates that the presence of the Koran means that the policeman was motivated by Islamic religious extremism, the report said.

Gallant’s office said in a statement that the minister “expressed his appreciation for the Egyptian defense minister’s commitment to a joint investigation of the details of the serious incident, and emphasized the importance of cooperation in the investigation of the attack to prevent further incidents in the future.”

Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed on Saturday in two separate exchanges of fire with a terrorist along the border with Egypt.

In the first incident, two soldiers were fatally shot while manning an observation post along the frontier.

Hours later, during the search for the perpetrator, another soldier died in an exchange of fire within Israeli territory. A fourth IDF soldier was lightly wounded.

The terrorist, identified as an Egyptian police officer, was killed.

(From Left) IDF St.-Sgt. Ohad Dahan, St.-Sgt. Uri Itzhak Ilouz, Sgt. Lia Ben Nun were killed on the Israel Egyptian border on June 3, 2023. Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

The IDF, in conjunction with the Egyptian army, opened an investigation into the attacks.

Since Israel completed a high-tech security fence along the border with Egypt, it has been largely quiet.

Sinai-based terrorists carried out multiple attacks against Israel in 2011 and 2012, before the fence was completed. In August 2011, terrorists killed six Israeli civilians, an IDF soldier, an Israeli police counterterrorism officer and five Egyptian soldiers.

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