Egyptian general visits Israeli youth village to apologize for stray fire

In December 20 incident, large 0.5-inch rounds fired during military drill in Sinai hit unoccupied trailer at Nitzana

A bullet that hit a home in Nitzana and was apparently fired from Egypt, December 20, 2018. (Courtesy)
A bullet that hit a home in Nitzana and was apparently fired from Egypt, December 20, 2018. (Courtesy)

An Egyptian general who commands the country’s military forces along the border arrived in Israel on Sunday on a previously unpublicized visit to inspect damage from stray bullets fired by his troops toward an Israeli youth village.

Investigations of the incident by both the IDF and the Egyptian army concluded that the fire was accidental, resulting from incorrect aiming of large 0.5-inch rounds during the live-fire exercise, Hadashot TV news reported.

The bullets were discovered on December 20 inside a trailer at the educational youth village in Nitzana, in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council near the border with Egypt, by the leader of one of the local youth groups. They caused minor damage to the structure, but no casualties as nobody was in the room at the time.

At the time, the Israeli army said it “takes this sort of incident seriously, and the incident will be investigated.”

On Sunday, the Egyptian commander, who was not named in the Hadashot report, visited the site, saw the damage and the bullets themselves, and apologized to the residents of the village.

The regional council head, Eran Doron, said after the shooting it was the second such incident that month, adding that he was “closely following” the developments and was in contact with army officials.

Damage to a trailer at the educational youth village in Nitzana, along the Israeli-Egyptian border, caused by stray fire from an Egyptian military drill across the border, December 20, 2018. (Hadashot screen capture)

“I expect the military to coordinate matters with the Egyptians to calm down the situation so that we can maintain our daily routine,” he said.

Although uncommon, there have been similar incidents involving stray bullets fired into Israel from Egypt in the past. Egypt’s army regularly carries out military drills as well as gunbattles against terror groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

One such incident occurred earlier in 2018, and in November 2017 a soldier was lightly injured from similar fire.

Separately, IDF forces sometimes are forced to engage in gun fights with criminal groups, especially drug smugglers, who are intercepted along the border. One such exchange of fire took place early last month.

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