Three Israeli soldiers and a member of Egyptian security forces were killed early on Saturday in a shootout along the border between Israel and Egypt, according to the two countries’ military statements.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that the assailant who killed the three soldiers was an Egyptian policeman. He first killed two soldiers, a man and a woman, who were on duty in a border post and gunned down a third during an exchange of fire hours later when a manhunt was underway.
Another Israeli soldier was lightly wounded and the Egyptian gunman was “neutralized” by the soldiers, the statement added.
The Egyptian army stated that three Israeli soldiers and a member of Egyptian security forces were killed earlier on Saturday in a shootout during a pursuit of drug smugglers by the Egyptian security personnel near the border with Israel.
“A member of the Egyptian security was killed in the shootout” and another two Israeli soldiers were injured, the army spokesman Gharib Abdel-Hafez said in a statement:
Both armies said an investigation into the incident is underway.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Twitter that he has held a situation assessment with other defense officials, noting that the IDF “will investigate the incident as required.”
Such confrontations along the Israel-Egypt border are rare as the two countries have maintained close security ties under a peace agreement signed by the two sides in 1979.
The Israeli military frequently carried out search-and-arrest operations on the common border to prevent drug and weapons smuggling. In 2014, Israel completed the construction of a 242-km barrier along the shared border with Egypt, in an attempt to stop illegal labor migration from African countries into Israel.