Egypt's Brotherhood blames Israel’s Mossad for deadly Sinai attack
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on its website that the attack on a police station in Sinai on Sunday in which 16 policemen were killed "can be attributed to Mossad" and was an attempt to thwart Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
The statement said Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was trying to abort the Egyptian uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year and that it was "imperative to review clauses" of the agreement between Egypt and Israel.
Earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he hoped the deadly cross-border assault would serve as a “wake-up call” to Egypt, long accused by Israel of losing its grip in the desert peninsula.
Israeli forces subsequently killed eight of the gunmen after they tried to breach the border area, he added.
Addressing a parliamentary committee, Barak praised the work of Israeli forces in thwarting the attack.
“Perhaps it will also be a proper wake-up call to the Egyptians to take matters in hand on their side (of the border), in a firmer way,” he said.
Israel has repeatedly complained about poor security in the Sinai following the overthrow of Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, last year.
A demilitarized Sinai is the keystone of the historic 1979 peace deal between the two countries.
But for the past year there has been growing lawlessness in the vast desert expanse, as Bedouin bandits, jihadists and Palestinian militants from next-door Gaza fill the vacuum, tearing at already frayed relations between Egypt and Israel.
Egypt closed its border crossing into the Gaza Strip overnight following the assault, with one Egyptian official saying “Jihadist elements” had infiltrated from the Palestinian coastal enclave, which is run by Hamas Islamists.
Hamas condemned the attack on the Egyptian soldiers.
Israel knew about attack
Israel’s military spokesman says intelligence services had reports of an impending attack from Egypt, adding that they were ready to thwart any such move.
Masked gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel on Sunday, then burst through a security fence with cars commandeered from the troops to enter Israel.
Israeli military spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Monday that militants blew up one of the vehicles to enter Israel. But he said Israeli intelligence services had information about impending infiltration and sent an aircraft to strike a second car the militants had seized from the Egyptian forces.
Mordechai told Army Radio, “We were prepared for it, therefore there was a hit.”
Like Egyptian officials, he blamed Islamist militants from Gaza and Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt’s official MENA news agency said the gunmen were “jihadists” from inside the Islamist Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Speaking after an emergency meeting with military officials, the interior minister and the intelligence chief, Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi vowed to retake control of the Sinai after the attack.
“The (security) forces will take full control of these regions,” Mursi said in a television address.
He had given “clear instructions” that Egypt must take “full control of the Sinai,” after the security situation deteriorated markedly following the ouster of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak early last year.
Mursi, who took the oath of office on June 30 to become the country’s first freely elected leader and its first head of state since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow, said those who committed the “cowardly” attack and those who worked with them would pay dearly.
“Those responsible for this crime will be hunted down and arrested,” he said.