The New York Times reports:
Armed infiltrators described by Israel as Gaza militants who had sneaked into the country through the porous Sinai border with Egypt attacked multiple targets near the popular Red Sea resort of Eilat on Thursday, killing at least seven Israelis and wounding 40 in the most serious assault on Israeli territory in more than two years.
Israeli forces said they killed seven of the attackers and hours later retaliated further with an airstrike in Gaza. Six Palestinians, several of them members of a militant group, were killed in the strike, according to the group’s spokesman and medical officials in Gaza.
In Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “Those who think Israel will accept attacks on its citizens are wrong.” The Jerusalem Post reported:
The prime minister said that Israel “responds immediately and with strength” to terror attacks against its citizens.
Prior to Netanyahu’s televised statement, the IDF attacked terror targets in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in response to the terror attacks. Six Palestinians were killed in the joint IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) strike.
Among those killed was the chief of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Kamal al-Nairab. The five others that were killed were also members of the terrorist faction.
Netanyahu praised the IDF and Shin Bet “for killing in Gaza the leaders of the group who carried out the terror attack in the South.”
The White House issued a statement through the press secretary: “We condemn the brutal terrorist attacks in southern Israel today in the strongest terms. Our deepest condolences go to the victims, their families and loved ones, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery. The U.S. and Israel stand united against terror and we hope that those behind this attack will be brought to justice swiftly.” There was no indication the White House had been in contact with the Israeli prime minister. And at the State Department Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement was a bit more detailed:
The United States condemns today’s attacks in southern Israel and all acts of terrorism in the strongest terms. These brutal and cowardly attacks appear to be premeditated acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims, their families and loved ones.
This violence only underscores our strong concerns about the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. Recent commitments by the Egyptian Government to address the security situation in the Sinai are important and we urge the Egyptian Government to find a lasting resolution.
The United States and Israel are united in the fight against terror. We hope that those involved in the planning of these gruesome attacks will be brought to swift justice. We stand by Israel as our friend, partner, and ally — now and always.
Both the White House and State Department spared up the usual clap-trap about both sides using “restraint.” House Foreign Affairs chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen put out toughly worded statement focusing on Egypt:
Today’s coordinated attacks against Israeli civilians and members of the Israeli Defense Forces further illustrate the continued targeting of Israel by enemies of freedom and peace. The attacks reinforce concerns about the ability and willingness of the Egyptian government to safeguard its borders against the passage of militants and weapons.
Such brazen, coordinate assaults in this specific area of Israel have not been seen in many years. We anxiously await further details on the origin and perpetrators, and stand ready to assist the Israeli authorities in this effort.
An attack of this type highlights the lack of clear thinking on a range of issues by the White House. In the infamous Arab Spring speech (known best for its inflammatory rhetoric about the “1967 borders,” Obama-speak for the 1949 Armistice lines), Obama promised billions to Egypt. Is this a regime we should be showering with cash? Obama didn’t think that through before suggesting piles of aid. (Congress shows no interest at all in the scheme.) If Hamas is indeed behind the attacks, this also raises the issue of the administration’s continued funding of the Hamas-Fatah unity government. Why are we funding an operation controlled in part by a terror group? And finally, the folly of Obama’s hectoring on settlements and obsession with a “peace agreement” (without a viable peace partner and with a problematic border between Israel and Egypt) is apparent. And the “international community”? Why full speed ahead with a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state run in part by the terrorist operation that has never renounced violence and continues to promote destruction of the Jewish state?