Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Thursday for a law allowing Israel to shut its sole border-crossing with Egypt, saying that Israelis needed to be protected from entering the region during times of high danger.
Barak instructed his staff to look into the possibility of forwarding legislation that would give officials the power to close the Taba border crossing near Eilat.
“In light of the ever-changing situation in the Sinai, and the potential danger to Israelis there, I am ordering the examination of potential legislation that will enable the relevant authorities to close the border during periods of high alert,” Barak said at a security assessment held at the Defense Ministry.
“Unfortunately, even during times of very high terror alerts or the potential for kidnappings of Israelis in the Sinai, there are Israelis who choose to ignore the warnings and travel to the Peninsula. We need to act now, and not just wake up [one day] to a kidnapping or terror attack,” he concluded.
Barak’s instructions come on the heels of recent security assessments by the IDF and relevant intelligence agencies.
Last Thursday, Army Radio reported that the IDF was expected to approve a special security order that would prevent Israelis from coming within 300 meters of the border with Egypt.
The proposed security area will run along Highway 10 — one of the longest roads in Israel, extending nearly the entire length of the border between Israel and Egypt — and effectively place the road off-limits for civilians.
Egypt is currently engaged in a large-scale operation to root out terror elements from the Peninsula, which is seen as largely lawless and has been used as a base for several terror attacks and kidnappings in the past.