Armed men cross Egyptian border, kill 8 Israelis

EILAT, Israel (AP) — Gunmen who crossed from the Egyptian desert launched a series of attacks Thursday in southern Israel, killing eight people and threatening to destabilize a volatile border region that includes the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.

Israel blamed an armed Palestinian group from neighboring Gaza. Israeli forces killed five of the gunmen along the border with Egypt, the military said, and later launched an airstrike inside Gaza that killed five other militants from the same group as well as a child.

The Israeli military said three of the men killed in Gaza had been involved in planning the attack.

Gunfire continued on both sides of the border late into the evening. After nightfall, Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system intercepted a rocket fired by Gaza militants at the city of Ashkelon, the military said.

The attacks were the deadliest against Israelis since a gunman killed eight civilians in Jerusalem in 2008. They suggested Egypt’s recent political upheaval and a resulting power vacuum in Sinai had allowed militants to open a new front against Israel on the long-quiet frontier.

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Israeli medics evacuate a person wounded in one of several attacks Thursday in the Arava desert to the Soroka hospital in Beersheba, southern Israel.

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