Israeli Forces on Heightened Alert Along Egyptian Border After ISIS Sinai Attacks
Israel Defense Forces troops stationed on the Egyptian border heightened their alert level in the wake of Wednesday’s terrorist attacks against Egyptian army targets by Islamic State affiliate Wilayat Sinai.
Heavy gunfire and explosions were heard as the attacks began around 9:30 a.m., Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
The coordinated ISIS assault targeted Egyptian army checkpoints in the Sheikh Zweid area of northern Sinai. Some reports said as many as 64 soldiers and policemen were killed and dozens more were wounded.
Reports also indicated that Egyptian army personnel may have been kidnapped by the terrorists, who also made off with armored vehicles.
The attacks led to heightened fear across the border in Israel amid suspicion that ISIS might use captured tanks and armored personnel carriers to attack within the Jewish state, Channel 10 reported.
The Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza was closed, and all military vehicles and employees were evacuated from the area. The Nitzana crossing was also shut down by the IDF, and Israeli farmers located near the Egyptian border were prohibited from entering their fields.
The IDF also moved tanks towards the border, stationing them near the Nitzana crossing.
Palestinian Ma’an News Agency cited a source in the Israeli military who said that the measures were precautionary, and would remain in place until the army could clarify what was going on in Egypt.
The IDF also sent text messages to residents of communities along the Egyptian border, saying that, “in light of the events in Sinai, the IDF is preparing accordingly and security coordinators are being briefed.” The message further notified the residents of, “possible increased activity of security forces in the area, and we ask you to be vigilant.”
Additionally, GOC Southern Command leaders met with residents in Ramat Negev, who reported hearing explosions and gunfire in the morning.