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Quadruple Terrorist Attack Near Eilat Claims Seven Lives

U.S. condemns attacks while the IDF strikes back in Gaza
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: August 18th, 2011 in News » Israel
The scene in Eilat

Terrorists launched a co-ordinated four-stage attack north of Eilat this afternoon, which could trigger even more violence.

“We are talking about a terror squad that infiltrated into Israel,” IDF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich told Ynet. “This is a combined terrorist attack against Israelis.”

Shortly after 12:00 noon, three terrorists ambushed an Egged bus traveling from Beer Sheva about 20 km (12 miles) north of Eilat, spraying the bus with gunfire and injuring about a dozen of its passengers.

As rescue forces were responding to the first attack, a roadside bomb was detonated alongside an IDF patrol 20 km (12 miles) north of the scene of the first attack. At least two soldiers were killed and several were critically injured in that attack.

At about 12:40, a mortar shell was fired at a private vehicle along the Egyptian border north of the second attack. The shell exploded by the side of the road, and no one was injured.

In the fourth stage of the attack, which took place at around 1:30, another terrorist cell ambushed a bus and a private vehicle not far from the scene of the first attack. They sprayed both vehicles with gunfire and launched an anti-tank rocket at the bus. The rocket hit the car instead, murdering all of its occupants.

Reports from the scene say that seven people have been murdered thus far and at least 30 have been injured. The wounded have been evacuated to Yoseftal hospital in Eilat and Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva.

Military officials have said that the attacks were well planned. In addition to their rifles, gunmen also had a number of missiles at their disposal and IDF officials have said that they fear the terrorists may have been trying to kidnap another soldier. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino are travelling to GOC Southern Command, where they will confer with Southern Command Chief Major-General Tal Russo.

The cell that committed the attacks was holding between 10 and 20 terrorists, and Israeli security forces were successful in killing seven. One body was found to be carrying an explosive device while another terrorist was seen escaping to Egypt. Israel is continuing to search for terrorists, as officials reported at about 6:00 that forces had found another attack site with explosive devices ready to be used.

An Egyptian security official has already denied any involvement by Egypt in the attacks.

“Egypt was in no way involved in the incident, since it is difficult to penetrate the Egypt-Israel border. Moreover, it is impossible to open fire from the Egyptian side to Israel because of the distance,” he told Egyptian media.

A statement out of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the terrorists originated from Gaza.

“This was a grave terror attack at multiple scenes. It reflects Egypt”s failing hold on Sinai and the rise of terror elements,” Defence Minister, Ehud Barak said following a meeting with Netanyahu.

“This terror attack originated from Gaza. We will exhaust all measures against the terrorists.”

The IDF responded by attacking terror targets in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, in collaboration with Shin Bet. Five Palestinians were killed in the joint strike.

According to Ynet, “shortly before Thursday's attacks, Jordan had passed a message to Israel suggesting their intelligence indicated that a terror cell was plotting such an attack. The warning was in tow with defence establishment indications of a clear and present threat of terror in the southern sector.”

The United States has condemned the deadly terrorist attacks, as the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv called them “a brutal and cowardly act of terrorism.”

The embassy said in an online statement that “the American people and the Israeli people stand united against terror and we hope that those involved in the planning of this gruesome attack will be brought to swift justice.”

In addition, a State Department spokesman told Ynet, “We condemn the brutal terrorist attacks in southern Israel today in the strongest terms. Our deepest condolences go to the victims, their families and loved ones, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery. The U.S. and Israel stand united against terror and we hope that those behind this attack will be brought to justice swiftly.”

German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwille also displayed his country’s support for Israel.

“At this difficult hour we stand by the side of our Israeli friends,” he said. “Those responsible must be prosecuted. Terror and violence must not be allowed to torpedo peace and negotiation efforts in the Middle East.”

Dan Horowitz contributed to this report.

Related articles: Israel, Eilat, injured, dead, Terrorism, terrorist attack, Quadruple Terrorist Attack, Gaza, Egypt, Germany, Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak
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