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Israel-Egypt security cooperation rattled but steady after border attack

While Israel mourns its three soldiers killed by an Egyptian policeman, both countries need for the security cooperation between them to continue.
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Lia Ben Nun, one of three soldiers killed in the cross-border incident with Egypt, during the funeral in Rishon Lezion, June 4, 2023.

Israeli security experts believe that the strategic cooperation with Egypt will not be harmed by a deadly incident on Saturday morning when an Egyptian policeman crossed the border fence and killed three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers on Israeli territory. 

The attack, unprecedented in its nature in over two decades, rattled the Israeli security but it is not expected to boil over and shake the core of the security relationship cemented in the 1979 peace treaty. According to Haaretz, citing security sources, Saturday’s incident caused considerable embarrassment on the Egyptian side. 

The incident took place early Saturday morning. An Egyptian policeman infiltrated the security fence on the Israel-Egypt border in the Sinai Peninsula. After passing the border, the policeman shot dead two soldiers while they secured a military post by the fence. A third Israeli soldier and the attacker were killed in an exchange of fire a few hours later, also on Israeli territory. 

Soon after the incident, Israel's government called on Cairo to thoroughly investigate the attack. In the ensuing hours, the Egyptian authorities did not openly admit the incident was deliberate, saying the policeman was chasing a drug smuggler into Israeli territory. Still, according to Haaretz citing security sources, in preliminary talks between Israeli and Egyptian military officers at the site, the Egyptians acknowledged an act of aggression, saying that the policeman, usually stationed some 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the border, had operated alone. 

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