Wounded Israeli soldiers are treated after a shootout with infiltrators near Eilat on Thursday.
Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza late Thursday after a series of deadly cross-border terrorist attacks in southernmost Israel earlier in the day. At least five Palestinians were reported killed in the airstrikes.
At least seven Israeli civilians were killed near the southern resort of Eilat, and many more wounded when groups of armed gunmen attacked cars, buses and an Israeli army patrol vehicle, officials said.
The attackers are thought to have crossed into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, but Egyptian officials denied those claims. —BF
The military said a “large number” of assailants were working in multiple squads, but gave no specifics.
“We are talking about a terror squad that infiltrated into Israel,” Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said. “This is a combined terrorist attack against Israelis.”
Israeli security forces tracked down some of the assailants and killed seven in a gunbattle, she added.
Almost immediately Israel said the attackers came from the Gaza Strip and made their way through Sinai, which borders both Israel and Gaza.
“The incident underscores the weak Egyptian hold on Sinai and the broadening of the activities of terrorists,” the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement. “The real source of the terror is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force and determination.”