Eight Killed, 40 Injured in Multipronged Terror Attack

UPDATED REPORT: In what appears to be a well-organized terror attack in Israel’s south that involved multiple strikes using gunfire, at least one explosive and mortar fire, a total of eight Israelis, including one soldier, were killed as a result of the violence on Thursday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter page. The IDF website reported that more than 40 were wounded in what began as a gunfire assault on a bus north of the Israeli coastal city of Eilat. 14 were injured as a result of that attack.

Fire was also directed at another bus and two civilian vehicles. IDF soldiers following up on the attack were then hit with an explosive device. Mortar fire was also recorded against Israel.

Ynet reported that additional gunfire erupted hours later, from which a police officer was killed—the eighth Israeli casualty on the day. Thursday’s terror attacks were the bloodiest for Israel in years.

Israel managed to target terrorists following the attacks. An initial update in the afternoon from the Twitter account for IDF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said Israeli security forces got into a gunfight with terrorists in Israeli territory. The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter would later record that seven terrorists were hit by the IDF.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the attack originated from Gaza and later confirmed in a report on the IDF website that Israel had responded to the attack by striking the Gaza Strip.

In a statement posted on the Prime Minister’s Office website, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu said senior leaders from the organization that carried out the attack were killed.

“I have set out a principle—when the citizens of Israel are attacked, we respond immediately and with strength,” said Netanyahu. “That principle was implemented today. Those who gave the order to murder our citizens, while hiding in Gaza, are no longer among the living.”

The IDF Spokesperson Twitter feed also reported on Thursday evening that the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired at Israel on Thursday.

The day’s violence shocked people inside and outside of Israel. The US issued a statement posted on the White House website saying, “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.”

Israel also had strong words in the wake of the terrorism. Said a statement on the IDF website, “This is a malicious attack on innocent civilians, who were on their way to the known tourist destination city, Eilat, for their summer vacation. The IDF will pursue those responsible for this attack at all costs and will not allow any further harm to Israeli civilians.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupate.com, August 19, 2011)