Terror attacks in Southern Israel

08.18.11

Three coordinated attacks near Eilat and the Egyptian border have killed 7 people and injured 30:

In the first incident, Egged bus number 392, traveling from Beersheba to the southern resort city of Eilat, was ambushed by a three-man terror cell. Over a dozen people were wounded in the attack, which took place on Highway 12, about 30km north of Eilat, near the Ein Netafim junction.

Soon after that a second incident was reported, involving multiple roadside bombs and rocket fire at IDF forces patrolling the Israel Egypt border fence.

A third incident was reported at around 1pm, involving yet another shooting on a bus and a private vehicle traveling south. Five people reportedly suffered mortal wounds in the attack.

There’s no official word yet on whether lax security along the Egyptian border was responsible for the attacks, but carefully-worded statements seem to suggest as much:

“This was a grave terror attack at multiple scenes. It reflects Egypt’s failing hold on Sinai and the rise of terror elements,” Barak said. “This terror attack originated from Gaza. We will exhaust all measures against the terrorists.”

Israel has mostly been dancing on the head of a pin with respect to Egypt’s situation since Mubarak was outsted. On the one hand, nobody in Israel is going to come out publicly in support of an oppressive, dictatorial regime that the people clearly are glad to be rid of. On the other hand, there are legitimate concerns about what the next government will look like, and if terrorist elements hostile to Israel will gain control. Unfortunately, today’s attacks could only be a preview.

Update 8/20: Things go from bad to worse after what was apparently a suicide bombing that killed several Egyptian security forces members near the border. Egypt, of course, was quick to blame Israel, not terrorists, for the deaths, and now Egypt is withdrawing its ambassador to Israel and is accusing Israel of violating the ’79 peace treaty. The situation in Gaza is heating up, the UN – with Lebanon sitting on the Security Council – won’t condemn the terrorist attacks (who’s surprised?), and Hamas is threatening more attacks. With the 30+ years of cold peace with Egypt a hair’s breath from shattered — and without even mentioning what’s going on in Syria — there’s no word to describe the matzav right now other than “clusterfuck”.

Update #2: Meryl is, of course, all over the stories as they (d)evolve.

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