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Egyptian, Israeli Soldiers Exchange Fire in Rafah

Egyptian border guards and Israeli soldiers exchanged fire Monday at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, during the course of which an Egyptian soldier was killed. 

According to the Israeli Defense forces, it is unclear which side fired first in the clash, which was described as a “shooting incident.” According to Egyptian state media, the firefight between Egyptian and Israeli forces developed out of an engagement between Israeli and Palestinian forces, in which there was “shooting in several directions.”

Prior to 2023, such instances of firefights between Israeli and Egyptian were relatively rare, although in March of last year, a similar shootout took the lives of three Israeli soldiers and one Egyptian as both attempted to interdict drug dealers crossing the border. At that point, there had not been any deadly exchanges of fire in over a decade.

Under its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptian-Israeli border, as well as the Sinai peninsula, is largely demilitarized. Furthermore, the UN-operated Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is stationed on the Sinai peninsula to maintain its mostly demilitarized status. Because of this, and the fact that the current Egyptian government took power in a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Hamas developed, it is unlikely that the clashes were deliberate on Egypt’s part.

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