Officials say Egypt has deployed at least two helicopter gunships to the Sinai Peninsula in the hunt for militants behind the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Israel.

Security and military officials said Monday that more aircraft were expected to arrive in the town of El-Arish ahead of a military campaign against the militants in the area. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Suspected Islamists on Sunday evening attacked the Egyptian checkpoint, killed the troops, then stole two of their vehicles and burst through a security fence into Israel. Israeli aircraft then halted their assault.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Sunday's attack would serve as a "wake-up call for the Egyptians to take matters into their own hands."

Speaking during a briefing at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak added that throughout the incident, Israel was in touch with the Egyptian side, and that a deadlier attack was avoided. He also praised the responses of the Israel Defense Forces, Southern Command and Shin Bet security service.

Though the identity of the assailants remains unknown, Barak said they are operatives of a global jihad network. He added that eight gunmen and 13 to 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed in the attack.