The Israeli army said two of its soldiers were killed on Saturday morning in the south of the country, on the border with Egypt. According to the Israeli army, the perpetrator would be an armed man about whom not much is known at the moment, who was killed shortly after by other Israeli soldiers. Also according to information provided by the army, a third Israeli soldier died during the search for the bodies of the other two soldiers killed. The reasons for the violence are currently unclear, but an Israeli military spokesman said they were in all likelihood related to a drug smuggling operation that had been foiled a few hours earlier in that border area, at the border crossing of Nitzana, 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip. Drugs worth 1.6 million shekels (the equivalent of about 400,000 euros) had been seized.
Violence of this kind on the border between Israel and Egypt has been very rare since the two countries signed peace agreements in 1979 which normalized a hitherto highly hostile relationship. More than ten years ago, Israel built a 245-kilometre barrier along the border, which also passes through Nitzana, to stop the entry of migrants from Africa and militants of Islamist groups active in the Sinai desert area in Egypt: from then controls and the presence of the military increased. In any case, Saturday’s events do not seem to have created tensions with Egypt for the moment: the Israeli army has announced that it has launched an investigation in collaboration with the Egyptian army.