IDF troops foil drug-smuggling on Egypt border; suspect shot dead in firefight

In second deadly incident in two weeks, Israeli soldiers open fire after a truck allegedly accelerates toward them

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Part of the fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, north of Eilat. (Idobi, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
Part of the fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, north of Eilat. (Idobi, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli troops shot dead a man suspected of smuggling drugs into Israel from Egypt in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the man was in a vehicle that accelerated toward the troops during the smuggling attempt.

It was the second deadly encounter between Israeli troops and suspected smugglers in the past two weeks.

Though it has long been a regular occurrence, the Israeli military has noticed an uptick in smuggling efforts along the border with the Sinai Peninsula in recent months.

Such operations generally involve a group of smugglers on the Egyptian side throwing packages of heroin, marijuana or other contraband over the border, where they are retrieved by Bedouin Israelis in trucks.

Israeli troops were deployed in the area ahead of the predawn smuggling attempt on Thursday, the IDF said.

“They spotted three suspicious vehicles approaching the security fence along the border, from the Israeli side. The troops called for the cars to halt and saw that one of the cars accelerated toward them. In response, the troops fired at the vehicle’s tires. As a result of the gunfire, one of the suspects was killed,” the IDF said, without elaborating.

The military said it had opened an investigation into the incident. The man’s name was not immediately released.

Last Monday, Israeli troops were involved in a similar incident on the border. According to the IDF, the soldiers spotted vehicles approaching the border and called for them to stop.

Then too, the military said that one of the vehicles accelerated toward the soldiers, prompting them to fire at its tires. In that case as well, one of the passengers in the vehicle was mortally wounded and died of his injuries a short while later.

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