According to report in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Yaoum the three were members of extremist Islamic group, one of whom escaped from Egyptian prison during revolution against Hosni Mubarak.
Libyan arms expected to continue flowing into Sinai - For months, the Sinai Peninsula has been flooded with arms and ammunition looted from Libyan army; much of the weaponry, has made its way into the Gaza Strip via the smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border.
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At least three of the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the road to Eilat last Thursday were Egyptian citizens, according to a report in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Yaoum.
The report, based on a probe carried out by the Egyptian security forces, says that the three were members of an extremist Islamic group. One of them had escaped from an Egyptian prison during the revolution against Hosni Mubarak.
In addition to the three, five Egyptian policemen and soldiers were also killed in the various firefights.
Haaretz has learned that 12 terrorists, in four groups, carried out the attack. The groups were dispersed over an area 12 kilometers long. At least some of the attackers wore brown uniforms, similar to those used by the Egyptian Army.
The terrorists also waved white handkerchiefs to fool Israeli motorists, pretending to come in peace. They opened fire at an Israel Defense Forces helicopter in a bid to shoot it down.
The investigation by the Egyptians has shown that Israeli troops entered into the Sinai Peninusla chasing after the terrorists. During the pursuit, fire was exchanged with Egyptian police. Moreover, an Israeli helicopter, according to the Egyptian probe, fired two rockets at the terrorists and fired machine guns at Egyptian policemen.
The gunship fire resulted in the death of an Egyptian officer, Ahmed Jalal, along with two policemen. In a later incident, another two Egyptian soldiers were killed. An Egyptian security vehicle making its way to the area of the incident was also attacked, but it remains unclear who was responsible.
Earlier in the week, Egypt's Supreme Military Council, the junta running the country, met to discuss the killing of the five Egyptian security officers. Tuesday, Egypt's foreign minister, Mohammed Kamel Amr, said that "at no point was there any intention on our part to recall our ambassador to Tel Aviv." He added that the presence of Egypt's ambassador in Israel serves national interests.
The Egyptian foreign minister's statements suggest a wish to return to normalcy in relations with Israel, and the demand for an apology has been sidelined for the time being. In Cairo the expression of sympathy by Defense Minister Ehud Barak was perceived as a step in the right direction.
Despite protests in Cairo, it is clear there is an awareness in Egypt of the possibility that some soldiers serving near the area of the attack had been involved in the shooting at Israelis.
Egyptian intelligence is also aware of cooperation between members of the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip with Islamist activists operating in the Sinai desert.
A senior Egyptian figure told Haaretz that Israel should be sensitive to Egyptian public opinion in view of the changes that his country has undergone recently, and appreciate that the killing of Egyptian soldiers and Palestinians touches a sensitive nerve.
As the Sinai Peninsula has become a refuge for extremist organizations, it is difficult to collect intelligence about goings on there. At the Southern Command, great efforts are being made to achieve a permanent barrier, and the GOC, Major General Tal Russo, is planning to have it ready before the end of 2012, six months ahead of the originally planned date.
At the point where the attack occurred, the IDF had actually amassed forces. North of the area a Golani force had been deployed, and there were additional forces to the south.
The incident involving the Egyptians occurred later in the afternoon, while the chief of staff and the defense minister held a press conference north of Eilat. An IDF force rushed to an area where there had been more shooting. Egyptian soldiers were seen holding three men at gunpoint.
When the Israeli officers asked for the captives to be handed over, an Egyptian officer claimed that they were Egyptian soldiers. At some point the troops came under fire, and a sniper killed the anti-terrorist police officer Pascal Avrahami.
IDF and Egyptian soldiers were facing each other along the border and they came under fire from one of the groups of terrorists. They were neutralized by the soldiers. The incident ended about 6 P.M.
While Egyptian security conducted a search in the Sinai Peninsula, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.
Egyptian security forces claimed to have killed two terrorists. The IDF and special police forces claimed eight terrorists killed. Apparently, two others were not caught.
The incident, in spite of the planning by the terrorists and the timing, could have had much worst results. The army's presence in the area and the aggressive response by the anti-terrorist police unit and the soldiers proved effective.
Libyan arms expected to continue flowing into Sinai -
The rebels' victory in Tripoli is not expected to stem the flow of arms from Libya into Sinai and Gaza.
For months, the Sinai Peninsula has been flooded with arms and ammunition looted from Libyan army storehouses in the eastern part of that country and then smuggled into Egypt.
According to Military Intelligence officials, much of this weaponry, apparently including various types of missiles, has made its way into the Gaza Strip via the smuggling tunnels near Rafiah, on the Gaza-Egypt border.
Some of the arms also made their way to the terrorist organizations that have gained control over large portions of Sinai. In recent weeks, these organizations have been battling Egyptian security forces.
The arms from Libya are on top of the weaponry smuggled into Sinai from Iran via Sudan.
But the Libyan supply isn't expected to dry up anytime soon. The provisional government that is expected to take power in Tripoli will need many months to gain control over all of Libya's army units and armed tribes, if it ever does. And it seems doubtful that it will ever manage to gain sufficient control over the vast desert border between Libya and Egypt to prevent arms smuggling across it.
The anarchy in Libya is likely to continue for some time. And its shock waves will continue to reach Sinai and the border with Israel.
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