Islamic terror group in Sinai claims responsibility for deadly attack on Israeli troops

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Islamic terror group based in the Sinai claimed responsibility for an attack that killed an Israeli soldier, saying it was in response to an anti-Muslim film.

The group Ansar Jerusalem, also identified as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, or "supporters of the holy place," on Sunday claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on Israeli troops patrolling the border with Egypt. Some Israeli media reports said the patrol had stopped to give food and water to African migrants trying to cross the border into Israel.

The dead soldier was identified as Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, 20, of Nof Ayalon. Another soldier was injured in the attack by three assailants, who were killed by Israeli troops following the attack. On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces described the three as terrorists.

Ansar Jerusalem, which previously has taken responsibility for blowing up an Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel and for rocket attacks on Israel, in a statement on a Jihadi Internet site said it infiltrated over the Israeli border the previous day and waited for an opportunity to strike.

The group said the attack was "to discipline those insulting the beloved Prophet," referring to the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a fraud. The movie’s 14-minute trailer dubbed into Arabic and released on YouTube more than a week ago sparked ongoing riots that have left more than 20 people dead, including four American diplomats.

Ansar Jerusalem also threatened to carry out another operation in revenge for the killing of one of its members in the Sinai, which it charges was undertaken with the help of Israel.

The attackers were armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, an explosive belt that detonated in a shootout with Israeli troops, three rocket-propelled grenades and a machine gun, according to the IDF.

 "The IDF stopped a very big terrorist attack," IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said.

Meanwhile, in what the Israeli media reported was retaliation for the film, an eastern Jerusalem woman tried to stab an Israeli police officer with a knife in the parking lot of an eastern Jerusalem police station. No one was injured in Sunday’s incident, during which the officer overpowered the 32-year-old woman from the Silwan neighborhood. She was taken in for questioning.

 

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