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Israel Retaliates After 16 Killed in Egypt Border Attack

HAARETZ (Israel), BBC NEWS (UK), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), ASSOCIATED PRESS (US)

Worldcrunch

JERUSALEM - Israel says it has found the bodies of eight gunmen who attacked a checkpoint on the border with Egypt on Sunday, killing sixteen Egyptian guards, reports BBC News

The attack was launched at around 8pm on a security checkpoint in the Egyptian town of Rafah, where the borders of IsraelEgypt and Gaza converge.

Israeli intelligence services had reports of an impending attack from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and therefore were able to respond to the assault, reports the Associated Press.

According to BBC News, the heavily armed attackers had managed to capture a border post, commandeered cars and tried to smash their way over the border.

Israeli government spokesman Ofir Gendelman said seven militants were killed, four on the Israeli side and three in Egypt. Israeli soldiers are still combing the area for militants who might have crossed the border into Israel’s territory. Civilans were told to stay home. 

Following the assault, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Sunday's attack by insurgents in Sinai would serve as a "wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters into their own hands", reports Haaretz. He praised the quick responses of the Israel Defense Forces, Southern Command and Shin Bet security service.

According to Barak, the gunmen were identified as operatives of a global jihad network, reports the Israeli newspaper.

Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi called for an emergency meeting with military and security officials after the attack and promised a strong response, reports Al Jazeera. Egypt has indefinitely shut down the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip -- which is the only crossing into Gaza not controlled by Israel. 

Hamas condemned the assault, calling it an "ugly crime."

It is the largest attack ever carried out in Sinai by global jihad operatives against both Egyptian and Israeli targets, adds Haaretz.

Earlier on Sunday, a meeting of Non-Aligned Movement countries in the West Bank to discuss Palestinian plans for upgraded membership of the UN was cancelled after Israel refused entry to several foreign envoys.

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