JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Egyptian security forces were killed on the Israel-Egypt border in one of two incidents involving gunfire.
The Egyptian soldiers were killed on the night of Nov. 23 during a shootout with suspected Bedouin drug smugglers.
The incident occurred about 90 minutes before Israeli troops identified a group of armed people, believed to be drug smugglers, infiltrating into Israel near Eilat from Egypt. The smugglers did not stop when called on to do so by Israeli troops. The soldiers then fired at the infiltrators’ legs. At least one of the infiltrators was hit, according to the Israel Defense Forces, which reported that the infiltrators fired back.
Initial IDF reports indicated that the Egyptian policemen were not killed by IDF fire but by the smugglers, according to the military.
Defense officials reportedly are concerned that the incident could strain relations between Israel and Egypt.
In August, terrorists entered Israel from Sinai, killing 11 Israelis. In the ensuing shootout between the terrorists and Israeli troops, five Egyptian troops were killed. Egypt blamed Israel for the deaths, leading to strained relations between the two countries.