JERUSALEM: Israeli soldiers mistakenly shot and wounded an Egyptian policeman Monday along the border between the two countries, the Israeli military said.
A routine patrol identified an armed figure at the border before dawn, and when the Israeli troops challenged the man he cocked his weapon, prompting the soldiers to open fire, the army said.
The soldiers saw a suspect individual approach with a rifle which he was arming. They shot in the air and then towards him, an army spokeswoman said.
The soldiers realized it was an Egyptian policeman only after the shooting, the army said.
Army radio initially said the Israelis had returned fire after the Egyptian shot at them.
In Cairo, an Egyptian security official said the 21-year-old policeman had been hospitalized with a bullet wound in the chest. The official said the bullet came from the Israeli side of the border but that he did not know who had opened fire.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the incident to the media.
The Israeli military said a joint Israeli-Egyptian team would be investigating the shooting.
The incident occurred 20 km north of the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, in a border region that has been largely peaceful since Israel and Egypt signed a peace deal in 1979. -Agencies