Israel bans Passover holiday exodus to Egypt's Sinai, citing attack threats

Violet Powell
April 11, 2017

The rocket was sacked on Monday morning, causing Code Red alerts to sound in several Israeli communities on the border with Gaza.

Despite the relaxing draw of Sinai, tourism there has declined since 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew an elected Islamist president and an Islamic insurgency based in northern Sinai intensified.

Israel closed its border crossing to the Sinai peninsula Monday amid fears that a terrorist attack was "imminent", a day after twin bombings rocked Coptic Christian churches in Egypt. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed credit for the attacks.

"A projectile was launched from the Sinai peninsula and hit in the Eshkol regional council", an Israeli army statement said, referring to an area in the south of the country.

The rocket, he added, had not resulted in any casualties or material damage.

Though no one was struck by the rocket, a 50-year-old man who was nearby when it landed suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the attack, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

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Tensions have been higher than usual because the annual war games between the USA and South Korean militaries are underway. Earlier this month, North Korea tested a liquid-fuelled Scud missile which only travelled a fraction of its range.

FILE - In this October 28, 2011 file photo, a girl walks on a pier at the Red Sea beach town of Taba, in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

It is expected to reopen next Tuesday, April 18, with the end of the Passover holiday, but that decision will only be made following a security assessment, the ministry said in a statement.

"In light of the gravity of the threat, the anti-terror bureau advises Israelis now in the Sinai to leave immediately and return to Israel". The Sinai is a prime vacation spot for Israelis.

The crossing will remain open for those seeking to return from Egypt, officials said.

The militants have attacked Egyptian Coptic Christians before, but their campaign against the minority picked up in December with a Cairo church bombing that killed 29 people.

"Increased activity by the [Islamic State-affiliated] "Sinai Province" in recent months has also found expression against Israel in its desire to commit terrorist attacks against tourists in Sinai, including Israelis, in the immediate term".

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