Israel agrees to joint investigation with Egypt on Eilat attacks

An Israel Army Radio report said that Israel’s domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet, recommended a preemptive attack against members of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, prior to the attacks by gunmen near Eilat in southern Israel last week. The report said that the request was turned down by senior defense officials and political leaders.

In response, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that “the report suffers from substantive factual inaccuracies, and due to operational and intelligence reasons we cannot elaborate on the matter.”

The Shin Bet declined to comment on the report.

Meanwhile, Haaretz reports:

[T]wo days after telling Army Radio that Israeli and Egyptian officers would not carry out a joint investigation into the attack in the south [near Eilat last week], National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror has changed his stance. In a special announcement Thursday afternoon, he said a joint investigation would indeed take place.

The reason for the change probably stems from the anger that his statements to Army Radio have stirred in Egypt’s Supreme Military Council. During the Tuesday morning interview, Amidror said no joint probe involving Israeli and Egyptian officers would take place into the incident near Eilat. But he said the two sides would carry out separate investigations and then compare their findings.

Amidror made the statement even though Barak had announced on Saturday that Israel sought to hold a joint investigation with Egypt into the incident. Earlier this week, the head of the Planning Directorate at the Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, traveled to Cairo to discuss with the Egyptians ways of carrying out the joint probe.

The statements by the national security adviser were followed by a report Wednesday in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yaum, which was highly critical.

“The Israeli side has not responded so far to our demand for a joint investigation and did not announce a timetable for the completion of the investigation,” the daily quoted a senior Egyptian government official as saying.

“If there is no joint investigation we will recall our ambassador from Tel Aviv.”

Thursday afternoon the Prime Minister’s Bureau issued an unusual statement in Amidror’s name. The national security adviser stressed that “Israel agrees to hold a joint investigation with Egypt on the events of the terrorist incident on the way to Eilat that took place last week.”

Amidror added that the details would be determined between the militaries of the two countries.

Explaining the reason for the two versions, the Prime Minister’s Bureau said that only during the past 24 hours had a final decision been made on a joint investigation.

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