The Israeli police said Monday they had opened an investigation into a 23-year-old man from Bir Hadaj, a Bedouin town in the Negev, who was shot to death on the Israel-Egypt border Sunday night, during a drug smuggling operation.
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The young man’s name was Sultan Abu Jerdud, according to the Arabic language news site Panet.co.il.
According to the police, Israeli border police operating in the area identified the operation and started to apprehend the Israeli smugglers. The smugglers on the Egyptian side opened fire and Egyptian security forces started shooting at them. Abu Jerud was killed in this exchange of fire.
The police said they believe he was shot by the Egyptian smugglers, who were firing in all directions. The smuggling attempt occurred near the moshav Kadesh Barnea.
According to Magen David Adom emergency medical services, at around 10 pm Sunday they received a report of an injured person near Tse’elim, on Highway 222. He was brought there by a pickup truck that dropped him off and left, after medical teams took over. The man was shot in the chest and he was declared dead at the scene.
The police believe it was Abu Jerdud’s fellow smugglers who dropped him off.
The police said a team of border policemen posing as Arabs identified the operation, which involved Egyptian and Israeli smugglers. Some 30 Egyptian smugglers approached the border fence and propped up ladders against it during the operation. They then threw sacks suspected of containing drugs over onto the Israeli side of the border.
The border policemen then saw four vehicles approaching the site from the Israeli side of the border. Several people got out and started loading the sacks into the vehicles.
At this point the border policemen emerged from their hiding place and started arresting the Israeli suspects, upon which the shooting began, they said. The border police were shot at from several directions on the Egyptian side, apparently by the Egyptian smugglers. During the shootout the Israeli smugglers escaped, but one of the vehicles was abandoned. Inside of it were founds several kilograms of hashish and cannabis.
Near Bir Hadj the police later found an overturned vehicle and an all-terrain vehicle that had been damaged. They are investigating if these vehicles are connected to the attempted smuggling operation.