A squad of Egyptian Bedouin on Sunday took control of a resort complex in Sinai, for which they are demanding a ransom of four million Egyptian pounds (approximately $662,000).
According to reports by Egyptian media, the squad, armed with automatic weapons, took hold of "Aqua Sun", situated about 30 kilometers south of Taba, Egypt.
There were no tourists at the site when the squad took it hostage, however, there were Egyptian staff members present. An Israeli source well aware of the situation and with ties to the Egyptian owners of the resort told Haaretz that there were only a handful of security guards present at the time, and that their lives are not in danger.
According to the reports, dozens of gunmen are threatening to destroy the site and steal the equipment if their demands are not met. Egyptian security forces have not prevented the action, claiming that they cannot act in the region without Israeli permission. The resort's owner, who is currently hospitalized in Cairo, has called upon the Egyptian authorities to intercept, free the hostages, and bring an end to the episode.
The Israeli source emphasized that, while the resort is widely known among Israelis, it has not attracted Israeli tourists for the past few years.
According to the source, the Bedouin claim they own the land, despite that it was legally purchased from them years ago. "The Bedouin feel that they have been deprived, and that the state took control of their land, and now, after the revolution, they feel strong enough to take over tourist sites, to claim ownership of the land and take control of the [Egyptian] authorities," he said.
On Wednesday, Egypt will mark one year since the revolution that toppled the reign of President Hosni Mubarak, and today (Monday) the new Egyptian parliament held their first meeting since the former regime, without the participation of Egypt's National Democratic Party, which ruled for more than three decades.