(photo credit: Steve Linde)
Citing concrete intelligence, the National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued an urgent travel advisory on Tuesday night asking all Israelis in Sinai to return home immediately.
According to defense officials, intelligence obtained by Israel shows that a terrorist cell is on its way to Sinai to kidnap an Israeli and transfer him or her to the Gaza Strip. Israeli intelligence agencies have updated their Egyptian counterparts.
While officials refused to reveal the cell’s affiliation, they said it was working on behalf of Hamas.
A statement put out by the bureau about the intelligence information on the plot also called on the families of Israelis currently in Sinai to phone them and inform them of the travel advisory.
During Pessah, an estimated 5,000 Israelis vacationed on Sinai beaches, despite warnings not to do so, according to Counter-Terrorism Bureau estimations. The urgent language of the current advisory is extremely rare.
On Tuesday afternoon, rumors circulated regarding the possibility that an Israeli, maybe a soldier, had been kidnapped by a Palestinian terrorist group in Sinai. The IDF immediately ordered its units to count all of its soldiers and determine their whereabouts. By evening, however, the reports were dismissed after it was verified that no one was missing.
According to a top defense official, the advisory was issued on Tuesday after concrete information was obtained recently indicating that terrorist groups were planning to kidnap Israelis who were still vacationing along the Sinai beaches.
“This is a real threat based on intelligence that we just received,”
the senior official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening. “The
plot is to kidnap any Israeli, and it does not make a difference who
The last major terrorist attack in Sinai was in 2004, when suicide
bombers attacked the Hilton Taba hotel, just across the border from
Eilat, and several campsites where Israelis were vacationing at Ras
al-Shitan, near Nueiba. Thirty-four people were killed and 171 were
Hizbullah is also believed to be interested in kidnapping an Israeli as
part of its plans to avenge the 2008 assassination of its military
commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. Hizbullah has been unsuccessful
in its efforts to strike at Israel, which it blames for Mughniyeh’s
death, but has made efforts to kidnap Israeli businessmen.