Three Killed In Deadly Clash at Egypt-Israel Border

Deadly clash at southern border underscores Israeli concern over stability of Sinai Peninsula.

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The Tzin Canyon in Israel's Negev Desert, which borders the Sinai Peninsula.

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Egyptian militants crossed into southern Israel and opened fire on an Israeli work crew Monday morning, according to Israel military spokeswoman Lt. Col Avital Leibovich. Israeli forces returned fire and killed two of the three assailants after they killed one of the crew's workers, who was helping build a border fence.

The attack took place about 20 miles south of the Gaza Strip, on Israel's southern border with the increasingly turbulent Sinai Peninsula, which is controlled by Egypt. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli officials suspect Hamas, which controls Gaza.

[See pictures of Egyptians protesting against the ruling military]

The incident highlighted the concerns of Israelis over its southern border, where several similar attacks have occured since the Egyptian uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak last year. Over the weekend rockets from Sinai were fired into southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties.

"We can see a disturbing deterioration in Egypt's control of the Sinai's security," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak." We are waiting for (Egypt's) election results. Whoever wins, we expect him to take responsibility over all of Egypt's international commitments."

In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the area was becoming a "kind of Wild West" where Islamic groups can smuggle weapons into Gaza and attack Israel.

The country is currently building a fence along the 165-mile southern border with Sinai, and aims to finish the project by end of the year.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. You can contact him at scline@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.