The sources called the attack the bloodiest in years and highlighted the
lack of Egyptian government control in Sinai. They said gunmen armed with
heavy weapons moved through the Sinai and crossed the border into Israel
where they began shooting at cars about 20 kilometers north of the port city
The shooting, most of it from Sinai, lasted more than eight hours,
unimpeded by Egyptian Army or security units, Middle East Newsline reported.
"This is a serious terror attack that took place in several locations,"
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "The incident shows the weakening
Egyptian grip on Sinai and the widening operation of terrorists there. The
source of these terror acts is in Gaza and we will act against them with
The Hamas-aligned insurgents were said to have come from the Gaza Strip,
who entered Sinai and then headed south toward Eilat. The sources said
several squads, believed to comprise at least 25 gunmen, two of them suicide
bombers, struck at least four times before the insurgents met Israeli
military resistance. Most of the insurgents were believed to have fled to
The first attack was believed to have targeted a bus full of soldiers
that left Beersheba for Eilat. The sources said two gunmen in a car followed
the bus before opening fire.
An Israel Army patrol arrived and was blown up by improvised explosive
devices presumably set by the insurgents. At the same time, another
insurgency squad fired an anti-tank missile as well as mortars from the
nearby Israeli-Egyptian border.
The missile was fired toward the private car and six passengers were
killed, the sources said. During the fighting, another Israeli was killed
and dozens of others were injured.
No group claimed responsibility. But security sources said the attack
reflected the methods of Hamas-aligned militias in the Gaza Strip,
particularly the Popular Resistance Committees.
Israel blamed PRC for the attack and hours later conducted an air strike
in the Gaza town of Rafah that killed its military commander Kamel Nairab.
Nairab was killed with three of his associates, identified as Imad Hamad,
Khaled Shaath and Khaled Al Masri. PRC responded with rocket strikes toward
The attack on southern Israel took place amid a major counter-insurgency
operation by the Egyptian Army in Sinai. Israel has allowed more than 3,000
army and police troops to deploy in the demilitarized central and eastern
Sinai to search for Islamic insurgents.
"If the terrorist organizations believe that they can attack our
citizens and get away with it, they will soon learn how wrong they are,"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "We will exact a price, a very heavy