Israeli leaders are praising the vigilance, quick response and courage of the soldiers who thwarted a large-scale terrorist attack from the Sinai desert. By air and land, the soldiers chased down and killed a group of Islamic terrorists who had brazenly breached the border in an armored vehicle. A number of the dead militants were wearing explosive belts, leading officials here to believe their plan was to kill Israeli civilians in a string of suicide bombings.
This official Israeli army video shows that a strike from the air force finally stopped the terrorists as they sped down a highway...a couple of the militants who survived the hit were killed by ground soldiers... Israel was the second act in this terrorist plot...the first target was an Egyptian border station in Sinai. Officials in Cairo say more than 30 Islamic militants opened fire on Egyptian troops as they broke the Ramadan fast, killing at least 16. Spilling Israeli blood was the terrorist's next goal...but a general intelligence warning had put Israeli soldiers on high alert and they were prepared and in place to deal with the infiltrators...
Visiting the scene, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack showed Israel can only rely on itself when it comes to its security...calls from Jerusalem to Cairo to root out Islamic extremists in the Sinai and tighten security have largely fallen on deaf ears... Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he hoped the attack would serve as a wake up call for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to finally do more... The brazen and deadly assault on Egyptian policemen and soldiers is the first blow to the authority of Morsi. A former longtime Muslim Brotherhood member, Morsi now has to deal with the challenge of Islamic fundamentalists that see him as too moderate.
Morsi is promising to find the culprits behind the attack...no terrorist group has taken responsibility...Hamas has denied any involvement and issued condemnations...a clear show of hypocrisy some in Israel have been quick to point out... Israeli authorities believe the attack is likely the work of global jihadi groups who have made post-revolutionary Sinai their new base camp. Israeli officials say it's too early to say if Palestinian terror groups were involved in the cross-border attack. Israel will not rely on Egypt to prevent future terrorist attacks defense officials say. Instead Israel will improve its intelligence on Sinai to get a better handle of exactly who is operating there.
The border fence along the Israeli-Sinai desert will be completed in about 2 months. It will provide more protection in the future, but won't remove the threat. The daring and bold attack has raised the bar for the kinds of attacks that Israeli officials can imagine and then try to prevent. Some say the new fear is that Sinai terrorists could target Israeli airliners or ships in the Red Sea next.
Jordana Miller, JN1, Jerusalem.