Israel reopens border crossing into Egypt after 11-day closure
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Israel reopens border crossing into Egypt after 11-day closure

But Counter Terrorism Bureau warns Israelis that terror threat in Sinai 'remains serious, concrete and immediate'

Illustrative photo of the Taba border crossing between the Israel and Egypt. April 17 2010. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of the Taba border crossing between the Israel and Egypt. April 17 2010. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The Taba border crossing from Israel into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which has been closed since early last week, reopened on Friday.

“According to a Counter Terrorism Bureau assessment and with the approval of the government, it was decided to allow Israeli citizens to exit through the Taba crossing to Sinai,” the bureau said in a statement.

Nonetheless, it stressed that “the threat posed to Israelis in the Sinai remains serious, concrete and immediate, as reflected in the serious travel warning and the recommendation to refrain from visiting the area, and calling on all tourists to leave immediately.”

Immediately before the Passover holiday, which began April 10, the Transportation Ministry shut down the Taba crossing — also known as the Menachem Begin Crossing — to Israeli vacationers hoping to enter Sinai, citing fears of an imminent terror attack by the Islamic State terror group.

The crossing had been due to reopen on Tuesday, April 11, but in light of a “situational assessment,” the CBT opted to keep it closed.

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/ POOL)
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister Office in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)

The initial closure was ordered by Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, after discussion with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other security officials, according to a Transportation Ministry statement.

“This was an intelligence-security decision that was made in light of information that indicated plans to carry out a terror attack against tourists by Daesh’s Sinai Province,” Katz said, using the Arabic nickname for the Islamic State.

The decision came a day after two lethal attacks on Egyptian churches by the terrorist group’s so-called Sinai Province, which killed at least 43 people.

According to the minister, the Sinai Province, which has been waging a bloody war with Egyptian security forces and carrying out attacks against civilians, is more motivated to carry out an attack now in light of the “pressure on Daesh in Syria and Iraq.”

The closure of the border marked one of the few times the Taba crossing has been shut down since its opening in 1982, following the Israeli-Egyptian peace deal: It was closed in 2011, when Israel also assessed there was a high risk of terror attacks; and it was shut down in 2014, following a terror attack on the Egyptian side of the border.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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