Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday expressed regret over the deaths of 16 Egyptian guards in an attack by gunmen on the border with Israel.
He was speaking during a visit to the Kerem Shalom border post (Karm Abu Salem in Arabic) where five attackers on Sunday crashed across the frontier in an armoured vehicle into the Jewish state and were killed by Israeli forces.
"I wish to express my regrets at the deaths of the Egyptians," Netanyahu told reporters, standing alongside Defence Minister Ehud Barak with the burnt out remains of the armoured vehicle used by the attackers behind them.
"I think it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in keeping the border between us peaceful," he added, going on to congratulate the Israeli military and security services for "preventing a very major attack" on Israelis.
Netanyahu added that the incident showed that in the final analysis Israel could only rely on itself for its security.
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Barak said that the cross-border raid was unlikely to be the last.
"Behind us we can see the armoured vehicle that was captured from the Egyptians by the terrorists and brought here into Israel where it was hit," he said. "There is no doubt that if they had entered a town here or an army bases by surprise, they could have caused very serious damage."
"I hope that this will be a wake-up call to the Egyptians regarding the need to be alert and effective on their side," he added.
Israel's foreign ministry later issued a formal statement of condolence for what it called a "barbaric attack."
"Israel wishes to convey its condolences to Egypt and to the Egyptian people on the killing of security forces servicemen by terrorists," said the ministry.
"This barbaric attack has caused the death of Egyptians, and was meant to slay Israelis as well. Moreover, it was aimed at shattering the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt," it added.