School trips near Eilat canceled amid terror threat

Education Ministry cancels trips near Egyptian border; IDF is concerned Palestinian, Egyptian terrorists want to launch attack on border to disrupt diplomatic relations with Cairo.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 5, 2011 13:36
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers north of Eilat, Sinai

IDF soldiers north of Eilat, Sinai_311. (photo credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

 
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The Education Ministry has forbidden schools and youth movements from taking trips south of the Netafim Crossing, which is on the Israeli-Egypt border, amid warnings of a terror threat emanating from Sinai.

The ministry later clarified that it "diverted school trips from the Netafim seasonal stream outside Eilat in compliance with a directive from the Defense Ministry," a spokesman said, refusing to go into detail. "Tomorrow the ban will be lifted."

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The IDF is concerned that Palestinian and Egyptian terrorists will try to launch an attack along the border with Israel in an effort to further worsen ties between the two countries.

In August, terrorists crossed into Israel from Sinai and killed eight Israelis. A number of Egyptian policemen were killed in the cross fire, leading to a strain in ties between Jerusalem and Cairo.

IDF fears are that following the elections in Egypt – and the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist victories – terrorist groups will try to launch another attack along the border with the objective of killing and possibly kidnapping Israelis, and also as part of a general effort to derail diplomatic ties between the countries.

Amid fears of a growing terrorist presence in the Sinai Peninsula, the IDF decided last month to permanently establish a new regional brigade along the Israeli-Egyptian border. The brigade will operate under IDF Division 80 and will be responsible for securing the city of Eilat and surrounding areas.

Defense officials said that Israel’s concern was not over the possibility that an all-out conventional war would break out with Egypt following the elections, but rather with the possibility that terrorists will launch a series of borderline attacks similar to the attack in August.

In addition to the new brigade, the Southern Command has established a new Combat Collection battalion to increase coverage of the border with specialized surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

Until now, the Combat Collection Corps, formerly known as Field Intelligence, consisted of three battalions – divided between the IDF’s Central, Southern and Northern commands – and a number of surveillance teams equipped with high-quality camouflage capabilities, intelligence-gathering systems, advanced radar systems and remote-controlled weapons.

The Defense Ministry has so far completed the construction of around 65 kilometers of fence along Israel’s border with Egypt in face of the terror threats and a recent significant increase in the number of infiltrations by African migrants.

An additional 40 km. of fence will be erected by the end of 2011 and the section of 230 km. slated for closure will be completed by September 2012.

Gil Shefler contributed to this report.

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