I suppose it was to be expected.
On Sunday, some 35 Arab Islamist terrorists--almost certainly mostly Palestinians-- attacked an Egyptian army base at the Rafah border checkpoint between Egypt and Gaza (pictured above). They killed 16 Egyptian soliders, who had just sat down to break their Ramadan fast. They stole an armored vehicle and, joined by a pickup truck, which they filled with explosives, crashed through the border fence between Egypt and Israel, apparently with the intention of a terror attack on Israeli communities in the Negev. The armored vehicile, with 7 terrorists inside, weaved its way through concrete barriers at the border crossing, but fortunately the pickup truck became stuck in a sand strip. The truck driver apparently realized he was trapped and detonated the explosives, happily killing no one but himself. In the meantime the armored vehicle confronted the Israeli Bedouin Reconaissance Force. (Yes, some Israeli Arabs do serve in the Israeli Defense forces). The lightly armed Bedouin soldiers opened fire, but were unable to stop the armored vehicle, now some 2 km inside Israel. The IDF dispatched tanks to block the vehicle from reaching an Israeli town, and an Israeli Air Force fighter disabled the vehicle with a missile. Two terrorists fled from the vehicle into adjacent open fields, where they were killed in a short firefight with IDF soldiers. An IDF tank shelled the disabled armored vehicle, killing five terrorists who had remained inside it.
All of the terrorists were wearing explosive vests. It seems clear that their objective was to enter an Israeli army base or town, and take as many lives as possible.
A minute by minute account of the attack appears here in the Jerusalem Post.
Today, as also reported in the Jerusalem Post
, the inevitable happened. Faced with the painful reality that Palestinian Arab Islamist terrorists had murdered Muslim Egyptian solidiers as they sat down to break their Ramadan fast, Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood react as they usually do when confronting cognitive dissonance--they blamed the attack on Israel and thed Mossad.
This is hardly a novel phenomenon. Ever since 9/11, the popular Egyptian press has blamed the World Trade Center attack on the Mossad, including false claims that no Jews died in that attack, supposedly because they had advance warning.
Prior to that, when Egyptian Air Lines Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic on October 31, 1999, killing all 217 people on board, the Egyptian government and the Egyptian street refused to accept the conclusion of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigation, which was that Relief First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti deliberately caused his plane to crash in a suicide-mass murder. Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the NTSB findings, including air traffic controller tracking and the on-board flight recorder data, and even tapes of the final conversations between the airliner's Captain and Al-Batouti, in which the Captain shouts, "What are you doing?" and Al-Batouti repeatedly says, ""Tawkalt ala Allah" (I rely on God), the official Egyptian government conclusion was that Flight 990 crashed due to mechanical failure. Popular Egyptian sentiment, advanced by the Egyptian press as well, including the Islamist Al Shaab, speculated that a Mossad/CIA conspiracy was to blame.
There are at least two lessons to be learned. One is not to fall for the allegation, which was frequently aimed at American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that an attack during Ramadan is disrespectful of Islam. The truth is that Islamists regularly launch attacks, against Muslims and non-Muslims, during Ramadan, as was the case at Rafah. The second lesson is for the Western press--when faced with conflicting accounts of an incident from Arab and Israeli sources, one gives credence to the Arab source at one's peril.