(photo credit: Linda Epstein)
The National Security Council’s counterterrorism bureau on Thursday renewed its
travel advisory against visiting Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, warning of potential
terrorist attacks targeting tourists.
“The information we have indicates
that terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, as well as other groups, are
continuing to attempt terror attacks... against Israeli tourists staying in the
Sinai in the imminent future,” the advisory stated.
The warning came just
one day after a cross-border shooting incident that involved the IDF, the
Egyptian army and a group of smugglers. The incident was sparked when the
Egyptian army spotted and opened fire on drug smugglers trying to cross the
border into Israel.
Some of the fire accidentally hit an IDF patrol and
the soldiers, thinking they were under attack, returned fire. An Egyptian
policeman reportedly sustained light injuries.
An anti-tank missile was
also fired at an IDF tank along the border with the Gaza Strip, just hours after
the border exchange. The missile failed to damage the tank.
emphasized the threat of kidnapping against Israelis, and warned all civilians
to leave the dangerous area.
“The counterterrorism bureau calls, once
again, on all Israelis in the Sinai to leave the area immediately and to return
to Israel,” read the warning, adding a request for families of tourists to get
in touch with their loved ones and urge them to return home.
IDF intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee that the IDF has stopped nearly a dozen attacks from
Sinai, and is closely following terrorist networks in the area that continue to
plan attacks against Israel.
“Terrorist groups in Sinai may try to create
a diplomatic crisis [between Egypt and Israel] through attacks,” Kochavi
The security situation in the isolated Sinai desert region has
deteriorated since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in a popular
uprising in February 2011.Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.