Israel Shutters Border With Egypt for Fear of Imminent Sinai Attack

Hundreds of Israelis expected to travel to Sinai during the Passover holiday ■ Israelis in Sinai requested to leave the area and return to Israel

Israelis on the beach in Sinai.
Elam Nussbaum

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Israel decided on Monday to prohibit Israelis from crossing the Taba border point into Egypt following an alert against an attack targeting Israelis. Israeli citizens will not be allowed to cross into Sinai, but will be allowed to return to Israel.

Israelis currently in Sinai were requested to leave the area and return to Israel. Foreign nationals would still be able to cross the border.

Tourists crossing into Sinai, 2010.
Eli Hershkovitz

The decision was made in light of concrete information received about a planned attack against Israeli targets in the Sinai area. It follows two deadly bombings of Egyptian churches a day earlier. The announcement also referred to increased ISIS-affiliated activity in Sinai.

The southern border crossing, near the city of Eilat, is the Israeli gateway to the Sinai Peninsula.

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The decision was made by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz in coordination with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and security officials. Katz, who also holds the Intelligence and Atomic Energy portfolio, instructed not allow Israeli citizens to cross from Taba to Sinai until April 18, after the holiday.

Monday marks the eve of the Passover holiday, and hundreds of Israelis are expected to travel to Sinai during the holiday.

On Sunday, two bombings targeting churches in Egypt killed 48 people and wounded dozens more. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, and threatened more attacks were on the way.

Israel's counterterrorism chief said last month that, if any concrete threats against Israeli tourists emerge from acute warnings of an imminent attack in the area, the border crossing to Sinai will be closed.

The current travel advisory is already at the highest possible threat level, but closing the border points to increased concerns for the safety of Israeli tourists in the Sinai.