Israel-Egypt border.
Israel-Egypt border. Photo by Moti Milrod
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A smuggler was killed in an early morning gun battle on Tuesday as an Israel Defense Forces patrol thwarted an attempt by some 15 smugglers to cross the Israel-Egypt border.

During routine activity on the border, the IDF identified several suspects making their way across. The soldiers told the suspects to stop but they didn’t heed the call, the army said. The soldiers began firing at the suspects, who returned fire.

The gun battle that ensued ended with no casualties on the Israeli side. The smugglers fled the scene and returned to the Sinai Peninsula, leaving behind one wounded accomplice. An IDF medical crew that was rushed over pronounced his death.

The IDF said in a press release that it would heighten its activity on the border in light of an increase in attempts to infiltrate Israel’s southwestern border.

On Monday, security forces prevented a terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border by thwarting an attempt to place an explosive charge on the border "using the criminal smuggling network in Sinai," an IDF officer told the media.

Since 2005, sources in the IDF said, the smuggling has been motivated not only by financial gain but also by anti-Israel ideology, possibly because of the influence of fundamentalist Islam.