Israel renews Sinai travel advisory amid threats

Counter-terrorism bureau warns of potential terror attacks targeting Israelis in imminent future, urges tourists to return home.

Sinai (photo credit: Linda Epstein)
(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.
The advisory 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.
Last month, 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 said.
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.