An Israel Defense Forces officer and a soldier were wounded on Wednesday in a shooting incident near the border with Egypt, the Israeli military confirmed.
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The two wounded from the mixed Caracal infantry battalion, one of them a female company commander. They were evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka Medical Center, Be'er Sheva.
Large forces were immediately mobilized to the area, near Azuz. They were combing the area to rule out a possible border infiltration.
An Israeli officer said that the ambush had apparently taken place from the western side of the border fence between Israel and Egypt. The Israeli force was on patrol at the time of the ambush, investigating suspicious movements near the border when the enemy opened fire on the military jeep, according to an Israeli officer.
The armed militants who approached the Israeli-Egyptian border from Sinai opened fire at the military jeep from three different positions from a vehicle that arrived adjacent to the fence and two other nearby places.
An army investigation revealed that the armed cell was planning to smuggle drugs when an army jeep approached the vicinity. They opened fire after realizing they had been detected. The Israeli forces returned fire, and then an RPG was most likely fired at the Israelis without causing any injuries or damage.
It appears that one of the armed cell members who had reached the fence was injured. Other shooting was carried out in the area, in coordination with Egypt. During the incident several cell members were killed, somewhere between three and six, according to Israeli officials.
Soldiers noticed Egyptian policemen on the other side of the border collecting weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, after the incident.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that the military "will not hesitate to respond" to any attack against Israeli forces or civilians. The statement issued by the army did not identify the attackers.
In a separate incident, five IDF soldiers were injured after a military jeep overturned near the place of the shooting, the statement added.
In September 2012, an Israeli soldier overseeing construction on the border was killed and another was moderately wounded when gunmen opened fire from Sinai, 100 meters away from the border.
In June 2012, an Israeli citizen was killed after gunmen set off an explosive device near the border fence and crossed into Israeli territory. Three terrorists penetrated the fence along the Gaza-Sinai border, placed an explosive device on Philadelphi corridor near Be'er Milka, and waited for Israeli vehicles to pass by.
In March 2012, two suspected smugglers, including one Israeli Arab, were killed in a shooting incident with IDF soldiers along the border fence.