Two Israeli soldiers have been killed in a rare shooting along the Egyptian border, triggering a manhunt in which a third soldier and the “assailant” were killed, the army said.
A fourth soldier, a non-commissioned officer, was lightly wounded and evacuated to hospital, it added. The military said an assailant was in Israeli territory when he opened fire at troops. The soldiers returned fire, killing the gunman.
The two soldiers, one man and one woman, were “killed by live fire adjacent to the border,” the army said. The shooting triggered a manhunt in the border area during which the third soldier and the assailant were killed, the army later added.
“A short while ago, an [Israeli] soldier was killed during an exchange of fire with an assailant in Israeli territory,” it said.
“Soldiers who were nearby the soldier shot and neutralised the assailant,” a statement said. A spokesperson confirmed the attacker had been killed. The army did not immediately release details of the assailant’s identity or motive.
Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel after the Camp David accords of 1978, and the border is largely peaceful, although drug smugglers have occasionally exchanged fire with Israeli troops.
Criminals sometimes smuggle drugs across the border, while Islamic militant groups are also active in Egypt’s restive north Sinai.
Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979 and maintain close security ties. Fighting along their shared border is rare.
The exchange of fire reportedly took place around the Nitzana border crossing between Israel and Egypt. The crossing is located about 25 miles (40km) south-east of the point where Israel’s border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip converge. It is used to import goods from Egypt destined for Israel or the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Israel built a fence along the porous border a decade ago to halt the entry of African migrants and Islamic militants who are active in Egypt’s Sinai desert.