Israel launched a counter-strike against Palestinian militants after gunmen killed seven people near Eilat on the Egyptian border. An airstrike on Gaza Strip targets killed six Palestinians, including those responsible for the attack, according to reports.
“This was a grave incident in which Israelis and Israeli sovereignty were harmed. Israel will respond accordingly,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement earlier in the day.
Armed militants entered Israel from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula mid-day Thursday. They then attacked a bus and at least two private cars and detonated a road-side bomb. Israeli troops entered the area, and killed the gunmen after a battle on the highway.
Israel claims that the gunmen came from the Gaza Strip, entering Egypt from the Sinai desert then traveling south to re-enter Israel near Eilat, according to Reuters.
Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack on Israel in the strongest terms.
The United States condemns today's attacks in southern Israel and all acts of terrorism in the strongest terms, Clinton stated. These brutal and cowardly attacks appear to be premeditated acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims, their families and loved ones.
Hamas, the governing Palestinian body in Gaza, denied involvement in the attack.
I don't think Hamas is behind these attacks, but we praise them since they were against soldiers, said Ahmed Yousef, a senior member of the organization, according to Haaretz.