IDF soldier injured as patrol comes under fire on Egypt border
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IDF soldier injured as patrol comes under fire on Egypt border

Army says incident likely ‘spillover’ from internal fighting in Sinai between Egyptian forces and Islamic State-affiliated groups

Mount Harif and the road running along the border between Israel and Egypt. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Mount Harif and the road running along the border between Israel and Egypt. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured when an army vehicle traveling along the border with Egypt came under fire early Monday morning, the army said.

The soldier was taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.

The IDF suspects that the gunfire was “spillover” from internal fighting between Egyptian forces and a Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate, but was investigating whether it may have been a deliberate attack, the army said.

Sinai borders Israel and also the Gaza Strip for a few kilometers at the northern end of the restive peninsula. Islamic State-affiliated gunmen attack Egyptian security forces, and vice versa, there on a regular basis.

In 2013, a 400-kilometer (245-mile) Israel-Egypt border fence was completed at an estimated cost of NIS 1.6 billion ($400 million), one of the largest construction projects in Israel’s history.

The peninsula has seen rising tensions, rampant gunfights and terror attacks as the Egyptian army battles both insurgent jihadist groups and criminal smugglers.

In February this year, an Islamic State-affiliated terror group claimed an attack that saw four rockets fired at the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.

The Islamic State Sinai Province said in a statement posted online, “A military squad fired a number of Grad rockets at communities of Jewish usurpers in the town of Eilat.”

Sinai Province was set up in 2011, ostensibly to attack Israel by firing rockets across the 240-kilometer (149-mile) border or sabotaging a gas pipeline that runs between Egypt and Israel.

But most of the fighting, by far, has been with Egyptian government forces, and attacks on Israel have been relatively rare.

Jihadists have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 unleashed a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

In 2011, assailants who came from the Sinai killed eight Israelis in a triple ambush north of Eilat. Israeli forces in pursuit killed seven attackers and five Egyptian police.

In 2013, four jihadists were killed by an Egyptian airstrike as they were about to fire a rocket at Israel, according to the Egyptian military.

And in 2014, two patrolling Israeli soldiers were wounded by unidentified men who fired an anti-tank weapon from the Sinai during an attempted drug-smuggling operation, according to the Israeli military.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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