Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday promised answers following the “extraordinary” killing by an Egyptian policeman of three IDF soldiers.
“The deadly incident on the Egyptian border on Shabbat is severe and extraordinary and will be fully investigated. I want to commend our forces who sought contact and eliminated the terrorist,” said Netanyahu.
“Together with the entire people of Israel, I share in the sorrow of the families of [those killed]… and wish a swift recovery to the wounded. Our hearts are with the families in their profound grief,” he added.
Sgt. Lia Ben-Nun and Staff Sgt. Uri Iluz were shot dead overnight Friday while manning an observation post. During the subsequent manhunt, Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan was killed in Israeli territory in an exchange of fire with the terrorist, who was also fatally shot.
A fourth Israeli soldier was lightly wounded.
The three fatalities served in the Bardelas (Cheetah) Battalion, a mixed-gender unit.
The funeral for Ben-Nun, 19, is scheduled to take place in Rishon Lezion at 4:30 p.m. Iluz, who was 20, will be buried in Safed at 5 p.m. Dahan, 20, will be laid to rest in Ofakim at 5 p.m., the IDF said.
A preliminary investigation found that the terrorist crossed the border through an emergency gate used by IDF soldiers in coordination with Cairo.
Egypt claimed the police officer crossed the border to chase after drug smugglers, in the aftermath of an earlier bust.
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 suggests that the policeman was motivated by Islamic religious extremism, the report said.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant and Egyptian Defense Minister Maj. Gen Muhammad Ahmed Zaki spoke on Saturday evening and agreed to cooperate in investigating the attack.
“Egypt has played an important role in the Middle East by proactively brokering calm between Israel and Iran-backed terrorist groups. A level of trust has been established between Israel and the first Arab state to make peace with the Jewish state,” said Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“The coming days will be delicate, but the two sides have the personnel and processes in place to handle this without escalating tensions,” he added.