Israel bombs Gaza, admonishes Egypt after Eilat attack

Israeli air-strikes across the Gaza Strip on Aug. 18 killed at least seven—including Popular Resistance Committees official Khaled Shaath, but also his two-year-old son and a 13-year-old Palestinian boy. The air raids came after coordinated militant attacks left seven Israelis dead—six civilians and one soldier—near the Red Sea tourist town of Eilat. Palestinian gunmen attacked two buses and two cars traveling near the southern resort city just after noon. When Israeli troops arrived, roadside bombs planted by the militants were detonated. Seven militants were killed in subsequent firefights with the soldiers. Israeli officials said they believe that militants crossed from the Gaza Strip into Egypt in order to infiltrate Israel’s border near Eilat. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the attacks “demonstrate the weakening of Egypt’s control over the Sinai Peninsula and the expansion of terrorist activity there.” (JTA, Maan News Agency, Aug. 18)

US and Egyptian officials meanwhile said the decision to postpone scheduled joint military exercises is due to the political transition underway in Egypt and should not be considered a sign of any rift. The Pentagon’s Central Command traditionally leads the biennial Bright Star Exercises, the oldest in the Middle East region, which involve forces from the US, Egypt and European and Arab allies. (VOA, UPI, Aug. 18)

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  1. Eilat bombers not from Gaza after all?
    Now that the Israeli air force has been pounding Gaza for a week, Amira Hass writes for Haaretz Aug. 25:

    Doubts emerge over identity of terrorists who carried out attack in Israel’s south
    It has been one week since the terror attacks near Eilat, and there is no sign of the traditional mourners’ tents for the relatives of militants killed by the Israel Defense Forces, or indeed any reports of Gazan families who are grieving as a result of IDF actions near the Egyptian border last Thursday. Nor were there reports of families demanding the return of their loved ones’ bodies for burial. A longtime social activist told Haaretz that even in the event that families were instructed to conceal their grief, news like that is difficult to hide in the Strip.

    The absence of mourners’ tents reinforces the general sense in the Strip that the perpetrators of the attack were not from Gaza, contrary to Israeli defense establishment claims. Gazans also doubt that members of the Popular Resistance Committees and their military wing (the Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades ) were behind the attack. Support for this view can be seen in a report on Monday by the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, according to which Egyptian security forces had identified three of the planners as Egyptians. A PRC spokesman responded to the report by announcing that the organization “praised” the attack but had not planned it.

  2. PA disavows new Tel Aviv terror attack
    Eight people were wounded in Tel Aviv Aug. 29 when a Palestinian man from Nablus ran over police officers with a stolen taxi, exited the vehicle and stabbed more people. The perpetrator was also lightly wounded as police struggled to arrest him. Israeli authorities said the attack was “definitely an act of terror.” It was quickly disavowed by the Palestinian Authority, which said in a statement: “We condemn all attacks against civilians, including the incident in Tel Aviv.” (Haaretz, Aug. 29)