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(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Due to fears of a growing shoulder-to-air missile threat from Sinai, passenger
planes landing in Eilat have changed their final approach, cutting short the
time they spend along the border with Egypt, The Jerusalem Post has
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Eilat has one airport with one runway. Planes coming from the
north land there by flying past Eilat until they are over the Red Sea. The
planes then make a U-turn, fly back north and land.
Red Sea ‘virtual fence’ to foil Sinai terror
Concern among the
defense establishment is that the planes could be targeted by man-portable air
defense systems (MANPADS) while passing over the sea, since they fly alongside
several mountains that are in Egypt.
In August, a missile was fired at
two Israel Air Force Cobra attack helicopters as part of a multi-stage attack
from the Sinai Peninsula that killed eight Israelis. The helicopters detected
the launching and immediately diverted from their flight path. They were not
The IDF is disturbed by the growing presence of MANPADs in Sinai and
the Gaza Strip. Israeli intelligence also believes that stockpiles of Libyan
MANPADs have been smuggled into Sinai and possibly into Gaza.
attack in August, the IAF has instituted new safety regulations for flights
along the border. Such regulations have already been in place for almost two
years for flights over the Gaza Strip.
Due to the growing threat, the
government might consider moving up plans to construct a new Eilat airport. In
July, the government approved a plan to build a new facility north of Eilat,
near Timna Park. According to the plan, the Airports Authority will finance
construction and operate the airport.
The cost of the project is
estimated at approximately NIS 1.6 billion, with construction expected to take
three years. An estimated 1.5 million passengers are forecasted to use the
airport each year – approximately 90 percent of them on domestic flights.