June 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egyptian border policeman kills three Israeli troops

June 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egyptian border policeman kills three Israeli troops

Latest Developments

An Egyptian policeman killed three Israeli troops on Saturday before being shot dead in a rare border infiltration that the countries are jointly investigating.

The assailant first opened fire on two Israeli soldiers, killing both, including 19-year-old female Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, as they secured a position facing the Egyptian border. As other troops responded, they spotted the assailant inside Israeli territory. He and a third Israeli soldier were killed in the ensuing firefight.

The Israeli military said it was investigating “in full cooperation with the Egyptian army.”

Expert Analysis

“While Egypt deserves credit for putting down much of the Sinai insurgency, it has yet to crack down on widespread criminality there. Its border forces are known to be underfunded and prone to both corruption and recruitment by bad actors. That this has cost the lives of three Israeli troops is a major wake-up call.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO 

“Egypt has played an important role in the Middle East by proactively brokering calm between Israel and Iran-backed terrorist groups. A level of trust has been established between Israel and the first Arab state to make peace with the Jewish state. The coming days will be delicate, especially in light of the odd statement issued by the Egyptian military that downplays the incident. But the two sides have the personnel and processes in place to handle this without escalating tensions.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Drugs and Weapons Smuggled in From Egyptian Sinai

Saturday’s incident took place near Mount Harif about midway along the 165-mile Egyptian-Israeli border, which is protected by a high razor-wire fence and extensive surveillance facilities. Despite Israeli precautions, there are regular attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons from the largely lawless Egyptian Sinai, which has also seen an Islamist insurgency in recent years. 

Israeli media said Israeli forces had foiled a smuggling attempt at the site of Saturday’s infiltration, raising the possibility that the policeman had been abetting the smugglers and lashed out in revenge. 

Fraternal Islamists: Getting to Know the Muslim Brotherhood,” by Clifford May and Jonathan Schanzer

Israeli Soldier Killed in Border Clash with ‘Terrorists’” by Bill Roggio

Sinai’s Volatility Increasingly Unites Egypt and Israel,” by Oren Kessler


Arab Politics Egypt Israel