Two Israeli troops patrolling the Egyptian border were injured by gunfire from suspected smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Forces Foreign Press Office said.
An Egyptian security source told the Daily News Egypt that the incident occurred south of Al-Awja border crossing. He said there was an exchange of fire between smugglers and Egyptian security forces and that some bullets fired by the smugglers crossed into the Israeli side of the border, leaving two soldiers injured.
The two injured soldiers, one male and one female, were taken to a hospital on the Israeli side of the border for treatment. The Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter, “the injured soldiers serve in the Caracal Battalion, which is responsible for defending the Israel-Egypt border”.
Ministry of Interior Spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said the incident took place at 12.30pm.
Egyptian security forces did not say what type of smugglers they were. The Egypt-Israel border area however has been a known route for human trafficking.
Ever since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, there has been a rise in militancy, particularly in North Sinai. Egyptian security forces have largely been the target of this insurgency, with repeated attacks being carried out targeting checkpoints and security facilities.
In 2013, the Egyptian military has launched what it dubbed as the “biggest military operation to cleanse Sinai of terrorism”. The military continues to carry out security operations in the turbulent region.