Israel's Border Crossing to Sinai Reopens Without Restrictions

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The Taba border crossing, in 2019.
The Taba border crossing, in 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Starting Monday, the Sinai's Taba border crossing will return to full activity, after being subject to many restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. There will be no limit on the number of Israelis who can cross into the peninsula each day.

The crossing to Egypt reopened in March, after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic a year earlier. In 2020, a total of 34,000 Israelis entered Sinai through Taba, compared to nearly half a million in 2019.

When Israelis were once again allowed through, only 300 vaccinated or recovered people could pass through it in either direction each day. The crossing's hours of operation were also reduced, but will be extended on Monday.

While entry was limited, it was reported that there were instances of people buying a large number of Taba crossing exit slots for days with particularly high demand, to resell to vacationers at inflated prices.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said that "Our freedom of movement is a basic right, and it must be preserved in every way. The Taba crossing has served as a transit point for hundreds of thousands of Israeli vacationers for many years, and we will do everything to ensure that it is as accessible, available and quick as possible.”

Michaeli said the crossing is crucial for Israel's relations with Egypt, adding that Israel's connection to its neighbors is "critical." She added that she will do all in her power "so that our partnership is implemented on every level – from the national security level to tourism." Easing the restrictions at the Taba crossing "is another step toward advancing cooperation with Egypt."

Also on Monday, the Zman Israel website reported that Egypt's state flag carrier Egyptair will be renewing its direct flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo, which will leave from Ben-Gurion International Airport four times a week. Its first flight will take off next month from the Egyptian capital.   

Flights between Israel and Egypt have been operated by Air Sinai, a subsidiary of Egyptair. They carried no national flags or identification.

On Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went to Egypt to meet with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi for the first time since taking office, marking the first formal, public meeting between leaders of both countries in a decade. 

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