Israel's Top Court Upholds Closure of Sinai Border

The southern gateway to the peninsula was shuttered after intel warned of an immenent attack against Israeli targets

A beach in Sinai, Egypt, October 2016.
Maya Hordniceanu

Israel's border crossing into Egypt will remain closed until Tuesday, the end of the Passover holiday, the High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday.

The court upheld a decision by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who also holds the intelligence affairs portfolio, to close the Taba border crossing to Israelis wishing to travel to Egypt.

The hearing at the High Court followed a petition that was filed against Katz by two Israeli citizens who had wished to vacation in Taba over Passover.

On the eve of Passover, the minister decided to abruptly close the border until the end of the holiday season in light of security intelligence and an assessment of the situation in Sinai.

Moments after the border closure, militants from Sinai fired a rocket at Israel. The rocket hit a greenhouse in a southern Israeli community near the Egypt and Gaza borders. No injuries were reported in the rocket attack, but one person suffered from shock.

The decision to close the Taba crossing was made after information was received showing that the Sinai branch of ISIS, which has grown in strength in recent months, intends to carry out attacks against Israeli vacationers.

Repeated assessments were made in the days leading up to the decision, out of a desire not to create difficulties for those Israelis who had planned to travel and vacation in the Sinai Peninsula. However, in light of the information and gravity of the threats it was decided that it was preferable to disrupt travel plans.

The court left the decision about closing the crossing up to the state.

The court determined that based on incontrovertible evidence there was justification in closing the border to Israelis, but added that there was some unclarity regarding the authority for making these decisions. It therefore issued a temporary injunction, calling on the state to explain the source of such authority before April 27.