In a report issued following an investigation into a shooting incident on the Israel-Egypt border, the Israeli Defense Forces acknowledged that their troops lacked operational readiness.
The Israeli military also described assigning soldiers to guard duty in pairs as an “error” that will be reviewed. They also stated that it would take disciplinary action against three military officers in relation to the attack, which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers and exposed significant vulnerabilities in border security.
The incident occurred on June 3, when a 22-year-old Egyptian police officer named Mohammed Salah Ibrahim managed to enter Israeli territory undetected and killed two Israeli soldiers, Staff Sergeant Ohad Dahan and Sergeant Lia Ben Nun. He then remained in the area for several hours before being killed in a shootout that left a third IDF soldier dead.
The military investigation was particularly concerned with the significant amount of time that had passed between the two shootings, raising concerns about how the Egyptian officer not only infiltrated Israel but also spent a substantial period within Israeli territory without raising suspicion.
The Israeli military confirmed that Mr. Salah crossed the border easily, as the security gate was left unlocked, taking advantage of overworked and understaffed border guards. In response to this, the IDF promptly sealed off the southern border, deployed reinforcements to the area, and reduced the length of shifts for border guards, which typically lasted around 12 hours.
Major General Eliezer Toledano of the Southern Command emphasized the gravity of the incident, stating, “This is a serious incident with severe operational consequences that could have been prevented, and it is necessary to draw lessons from it immediately.”
Egypt publicly presented a different account of the events, claiming that a member of its security forces had crossed the Israeli border while pursuing drug smugglers and engaged in a firefight with Israeli troops.
Egyptian media reported that sources close to Mr. Salah indicated that he had no political affiliations and was mentally stable. He had been performing border patrol duties for over two years. Israel returned Mr. Salah’s body to Egyptian authorities on June 5, and he was buried by his family the next day, with up to 40 mourners attending.
Security officials were also present, but Egypt has not indicated that this event is linked to any terror groups.
This incident marked the first lethal exchange of fire along the Israel-Egypt border in over ten years, with relations between the two nations being generally calm and cooperative.