Security forces, as well as Magen David Adom emergency services’ teams, were immediately dispatched to the scene. The injured were triaged on site and rushed to the Yoseftal Medical Center in Eilat.
Soon after that a second incident was reported involving yet another shooting on a bus and a private vehicle traveling south. Five people reportedly suffered mortal wounds in the attack.
A third incident was reported at around 1pm, involving multiple roadside bombs used and rocket fire at IDF forces patrolling the Israel Egypt border fence.
A fourth incident ensued, in which security forces engaged terrorists in combat.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, soldiers were among the wounded in these incidents.
All of the roads leading to Eilat have been closed. Security forces are currently canvassing the area in search of suspects. IDF aircrafts are assisting in the search, as well as extensive Counter-Terror Unit forces. …Defense establishment sources said that the fire originated from the Egyptian side of the border. Egyptian security forces have been alerted and are reportedly conducting a simultaneous manhunt.
The Muqata is live-blogging. The IDF reports:
Israeli soldiers were among the five casualties this morning, August 18, 2011, as terrorists opened fire on an Israeli civilian bus traveling 20km from Eilat, a southern Israeli city. Terrorists fled the scene and are being pursued by IDF forces. This morning’s incident, near the southern Israeli city of Netafim, left four soldiers moderately injured and one soldier lightly injured.
Magen David Adom says that at least 6 people are dead. Witnesses are now saying that those that fired on the buses were dressed in Egyptian Army uniforms! Egypt is denying that they were involved.
The IDF has killed three terrorists, may still be in firefight with others. So far over 24 people have been taken to hospitals.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently being given a brief of the situation as it happens.
The IDF Chief of Staff has arrived on the scene of the attacks near Eilat.
The IDF now says:
Combined terrorist attacks are currently taking place on Israeli territory, near the Israel- Egypt border, approximately 20 kilometers north of the city of Eilat. Nine people were injured when terrorist opened fire at an Israeli bus approximately two hours ago. The injured were evacuated to receive medical care at a nearby hospital.
Several people were injured as a result of an explosive device, detonated on an IDF force that arrived at the scene and drove over it.
Crossfire between IDF forces, led by the Commander of the 80th Division, Brigadier General Tamir Yadi and the cell of terrorists is currently underway. Additional IDF and rescue forces are arriving at the scene.
Hamas has issued a report on the attacks in which they call Eilat “occupied Om Ar-rashrash.” Barry Rubin writes:
This isn’t just another terrorist attack—it’s a major escalation, a new phase in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and it is the bitter fruit of the U.S.-backed downfall of the government of President Husni Mubarak in Egypt.
The IDF has said that the attack originated in Gaza. Jordan supposedly gave Israel a warning that terrorists may try to infiltrate the country.
Here is a video from the attack.
Less than 10% of the security fence between Israel and Egypt has been built despite the fact that the budget was approved over 18 months ago. Segments near Netafim and Carmit are still open, left completely unsecure and without the promised security fence. So far the IDF has been trying to manage the situation by monitoring the area with cameras and radar scans.
Israel’s Channel 2 is reporting that 20 terrorists took part in the attack, which was organized by the Popular Resistance Committees from Gaza.
A six-year-old and a four-year-old are among the 6 killed in the terrorist attacks. The IDF now reports that 7 terrorists have been killed.
Reports are coming in that Arabs near Jerusalem are celebrating the attacks.
Israeli officials are now confirming that there are terrorists still at large and that they originated from Gaza.
Hamas terrorists are reportedly going under-ground in Gaza, anticipating a heavy Israeli response. The Rafah crossing has been closed and UN officials have been removed from Gaza.
Here is an unbelievable story about how the bus driver of one of the buses that was attacked helped prevent an even greater catastrophe.
The United States has issued a condemnation.
The United States condemns today’s attacks in southern Israel and all acts of terrorism in the strongest terms. These brutal and cowardly attacks appear to be premeditated acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims, their families and loved ones. This violence only underscores our strong concerns about the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. Recent commitments by the Egyptian Government to address the security situation in the Sinai are important and we urge the Egyptian Government to find a lasting resolution.
The United States and Israel are united in the fight against terror. We hope that those involved in the planning of these gruesome attacks will be brought to swift justice. We stand by Israel as our friend, partner, and ally — now and always.
ElderofZiyon notes that the Palestinians are rejoicing on internet forums. The UN has condemned the attack and called for restraint.
In a press conference Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will respond to the attacks.
After a period of relative quiet, two more Israelis were injured as gunshots were heard near the Egyptian border. It seems that one of the two people is an IDF soldier.
Israel has killed two senior officials of the Palestine Resistance Committee. It seems that one of the dead is the head of the terrorist group. The IDF has also struck a number of targets in the area near the Rafah crossing. In a speech taking place Thursday evening, Netanyahu said: “Those who gave the orders to initiate this attack are no longer living.”
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has warned Israel against attacking terrorist groups in Gaza.
An Arab in Jerusalem was arrested with a knife and admitted to planning to stab a police officer.
The total number of dead currently stands at 7, 6 civilians (including a 6 year old and 4 year old) and 1 IDF soldier.
Two rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. One rocket landed near Ashkelon, no reports of injuries. The other was intercepted by Iron Dome.
While Hamas says they were not involved in today;s attacks, they have praised them.
Here is another video regarding today’s terrorist attack.
After Israel took out the leader of the Palestine Resistance Committee, the group has threatened to attack Israel again. Hamas has condemned Israel’s airstrikes near Rafah. Egypt has decided to close the Rafah crossing.
The IDF has released the name of the soldier who was killed.
First Sergeant Moshe Naftali, 22 years old from Ofra was killed during a combined terrorist attack in southern Israel today, Thursday August 18th 2011 around noon.
The EU’s Catherine Ashton has issued her statement on today’s events. Hamas has threatened to strike Israel.
Israel is now reporting that the terrorists sought to capture Israelis during today’s attack.
Here is the official statement from Netanyahu’s office.
Firstly, I would like to express my condolences to the families of the civilians murdered, and to those of the soldiers who fell while responding to today’s terrorist attacks. I share their pain. I know that their lives will never be the same. I also want to express my hopes for a speedy recovery to those injured in these attacks and are currently undergoing treatment in hospital.
We all witnessed today an attempt to escalate the terrorist war against Israel by launching of attacks from the Sinai. If there is someone who thinks that the State of Israel will let this pass, he is mistaken.
I have set out a principle – when the citizens of Israel are attacked, we respond immediately and with strength. That principle was implemented today. Those who gave the order to murder our citizens, while hiding in Gaza, are no longer among the living.
I commend the IDF and the security services who eliminated today in Gaza the senior figures of the organization which carried out the terror attacks in the south. I commend the soldiers, police, and members of the security services who acted swiftly, determinately and bravely against the terrorists, and who thereby prevented an even greater tragedy.
If the terrorist organizations believe that they can attack our citizens and get away with it, they will soon learn how wrong they are. We will exact a price, a very heavy price.
Iron Dome has intercepted two more rockets, making three in total today. It did not intercept 1 rocket, however, that landed in an open field. The IDF said that they had intel that terrorist group was planning an attack, however, they believed they would only act at night.
Italy has called the terrorist attack “barbaric.”
Congressman Rothman has called on the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to condemn today’s attack.