Ever since the fall of Egypt's last president, Hosni Mubarak, Islamist terrorist groups of all stripes have been flocking to the lawless Sinai desert where security is no longer tight. That's created a new national security risk for Israel along its 225 kilometer border with Sinai. A security fence is rapidly being constructed, but terrorists have still managed to carry out 2 major attacks on Israeli targets this year and now they've succeeded in carrying out a third. A group of Israeli soldiers were ambushed as they brought water to African migrants who had been stopped from illegally crossing into Israel.
20 year old Netanel Yahalomi lost his life. The terrorists attacked his unit from a spot along the Sinai border where Israel's security fence remains unfinished …the last stretch of the steel wire fence – about 20 kilometers worth -- is supposed to be finished by December. Expressing his condolences to the Yahalomi family, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said the attack highlights how crucial it is to rapidly finishing the security fence. Israeli army officials say the quick response of its soldiers in the area thwarted what could have been a deadly large-scale attack… It was a female soldier – a sniper -- who prevented that from happening. She shot down one of the terrorists, setting off the explosives he wore which helped stop his accomplices as well.
Ansar Jerusalem - an al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group in the Sinai - has claimed responsibility online for the cross border attack. Linking the ambush to the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," the terrorist group called the incident a disciplinary attack against those who insulted the beloved prophet Muhammad. There is no evidence that Jews or Israelis were involved in the American-made film. U.S. officials have identified the filmmaker as an American citizen originally from Egypt who is a Coptic Christian. The Ansar Jerusalem terrorist group is rapidly building a name for itself – it also took responsibility for the cross border shooting spree in August of 2011 that left 8 Israelis dead near the coastal city of Eilat.
With what appears to be a growing trend of terrorist attacks from the Sinai, Israel is going to have to make some difficult decisions about how to defend itself. One option may be to allow Egypt to permanently keep more troops and tanks in the area. Egyptian President Morsi is reportedly interested in this option and will propose changes to the military appendix in the 1979 peace treaty. But while this may ensure more security for Israel, it also has some drawbacks. Israeli officials are not sure if they can trust the new x-Muslim Brotherhood leader of Egypt and it may be too risky to allow him to put troops and tanks so close to Israel's border.