JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Gunmen killed seven people in southern Israel yesterday in attacks along the Egyptian border and Israel responded with an air strike in the Gaza Strip that killed six Palestinians, including the leaders of a group it blamed for the violence.
The series of assaults on a desert road north of Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat drew Israeli accusations that Egypt’s new rulers were losing their grip on the porous frontier.
Israel said the attackers infiltrated from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Sinai desert, despite stepped up efforts by Egyptian security forces in recent days to rein in Palestinian and Islamist radicals.
“If anyone thinks the State of Israel will resign itself to this, they are wrong,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief television address about the most deadly attack in Israel since 2008.
Israeli commanders said six civilians and one soldier were killed in attacks on two buses, a car and an army vehicle. Another 25 people were wounded.
The violence, which began in the early afternoon, stretched into the evening. As the Israeli military’s chief of staff and Defence Minister Ehud Barak were briefing media at the scene, ambulances raced away to what reporters said was another attack by gunmen in which two people were wounded.
The military said seven gunmen were killed in southern Israel, including two who blew themselves up in suicide attacks on one of the buses and in a confrontation with soldiers.
Egyptian soldiers apparently shot dead two gunmen, the military said.
Hours later, Israel struck against the Popular Resistance Committees, an armed faction that often operates independently of Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The Israeli military said the PRC was behind the border attack — a charge denied by the faction.