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Three Israeli soldiers and one Egyptian officer killed in border clash

Three Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday in a rare exchange of fire involving an Egyptian security officer near the border between the two countries.

Two Israeli troopers, one male and one female, guarding a border army post were found dead from live fire in the early hours of the morning.

Hours later, the Israeli military said it was involved in an exchange of fire while conducting searches in the area.

The shoot-out left an Egyptian security officer and a third Israeli soldier killed.

In a statement, the Israeli military described the Egyptian officer as an “assailant” who was exchanging fire with its troops.

The Egyptian military released a statement confirming the death of an officer in Israel.

It said he crossed the border during a police chase of drug smugglers. He was then involved in an exchange of gunfire that left him and three Israelis dead. Two others were wounded, it said.

The Israeli military said an “investigation is being conducted in full cooperation” with the Egyptian military.

Later on Saturday, Egypt’s defence minister Mohamed Zaki spoke with his Israeli counterpart in a phone call to discuss taking necessary measures to prevent such an incident from happening again, an Egyptian army statement said.

Israeli Army spokesman Daniel Hagari confirmed that the military foiled a drug smuggling attempt at 2:30am, which took place some 3km north of the army post that was attacked at around 6am.

However, he said he did not know how to link the two incidents.

It was reported earlier that the attack on the army post took place near the southern border town of Nitzana, which is home to an Israeli military camp and a commercial border crossing with Egypt.

The Times of Israel later said the incident occurred between Mount Sagi and Mount Harif, some 50km south of Nitzana.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant held a brief assessment meeting over the incident with Herzi Halevi, the chief of staff of the armed forces, and other defence officials.

The 200km border between Israel and Egypt enjoys relative calm, though drug-smuggling attempts have increased in recent years, leading to confrontations between Israeli troops and smugglers.

According to Israeli army statistics, at least 800 “operational incidents” resulting from smuggling attempts took place in 2022, a nearly 100 percent increase from the previous year.

Egypt and Israel fought in four wars between 1948 and 1973, but no major hostilities have happened between the two since they signed a peace treaty in 1979.

In 1985, Egyptian border policeman Suleiman Khater killed seven Israeli tourists in Sinai and was later sentenced to life imprisonment by an Egyptian court. He was found dead in a Cairo prison cell days after his conviction.

In 1990, border policeman Ayman Mohammed Hassan crossed into Israel and killed four Israelis, including three soldiers. He was given a 12-year prison sentence by an Egyptian court and was released in 2000.

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