‘Terror Cell on Way to Sinai’

Itamar Eichner

‘Terror Cell on Way to Sinai’

Security authorities say international terrorists plan to strike at Israeli tourists in Egypt using car bombs, suicide attackers; meanwhile, most travelers ignore harsh Counter-Terror Bureau warning



TEL AVIV – Terror threat repeated: International Islamic Jihad terror cells are planning to carry out a terror attack on Sinai tourist spots frequented by Israelis, according to intelligence information.

It is estimated the terror cells, which apparently are linked to al-Qaeda, will attempt to attack tourist hubs along Sinai’s beaches via truck or car bombs and suicide bombers.

More than 15,000 Israelis are currently visiting Sinai, despite a harsh travel warning issued by the Counter- Terrorism Bureau.

A bureau source told “Yedioth Ahronoth” the intelligence information is “serious and credible.”

“We recommend Israelis refrain from traveling to Sinai, and we suggest that those who are already there return home immediately,” the source said.

A security establishment source said the Egyptians are incapable of dealing with the Sinai terror threats.

“The Egyptians are acting against local terror groups, but they are not doing enough,” a source said. “It is irresponsible to allow Israelis to go to Sinai. They should not complain that we did not warn them.”

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israelis who enter Sinai are making a big mistake.

“The (travel) warning is based on solid intelligence information. The Foreign Ministry is in no hurry to issue such warnings, because we do not like it when such warnings are issued regarding Israel,” he said.

Terror Victims Organization Calls for Shutting Taba Border Crossing

Terror Victims Organization Calls for Shutting Taba Border Crossing

Israel National News


Meir Indor, who heads the Terror Victims’ Association, called on authorities to close the Taba border crossing to Egypt in light of the travel advisory.

Indor explains that the IDF has banned Israelis from entering Palestinian Authority autonomous areas due to concerns for their safety, and should similarly close the international border crossing after the travel advisory warned that terrorists are seeking to target Israelis in Egypt, including Sinai.

Responding to the request, Foreign Ministry officials stated such a move is not under consideration, adding that doing so would constitute a violation of the treaty between Israel and Egypt.

Authorities reported before the Sabbath that despite the travel advisory, over 8,000 Israelis crossed into Egypt during recent days. As of Sunday morning, 15,000 had made the crossing, doubling the number of Israelis who visited Sinai last Shavuot. That number is expected to double by the end of the holiday, Monday evening.

‘Close Border with Egypt’

Seya Egozy; Diana Bahur Nir

‘Close Border with Egypt’

Terror victims group wants government to ban travel to Sinai, as Israelis ignore terror warning



TEL AVIV – The Almagor Terror Victims Association is demanding that the interior and transportation ministers close the border with Egypt in light of warnings regarding terrorists’ plans to stage an attack on Israelis traveling to the Sinai desert.

Just as the government bans Israelis from traveling to Palestinian areas, it should do the same in this case, group Chairman Meir Indor said.

“The border should only be closed to Israeli tourists. If the Egyptians wish to enter Israel, they can go ahead,” he said.

Indor added the severe terror warning issued by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau are akin to an emergency situation.

“A regular citizens doesn’t have the ability to judge such situations,” he said. “Someone in the government should…take the decision to close the border. We need to be wise before and not after the fact.”

However, Foreign Ministry sources told Ynet the proposal is a no-go.

“Closing a border is something that is unacceptable between states and constitutes a violation of the peace agreement,” one official said. “Closing the border is a very negative, extreme measure.”

Israelis Ignore Sinai Terror Warning

About 10,000 people crossed the border into Egypt in recent days, including at least 3,000 in the past 24 hours, despite a Counter-Terrorism Bureau warning urging Israelis to refrain from visiting Egypt due to terror fears.

Taba crossing director Itzik Hai told Ynet the latest warnings did not make an impression on most Israeli travelers.

“I saw maybe five or six youngsters who were at the crossing, got a worried phone call from their parents, and turned around,” he said, and estimated 15,000 Israelis will be crossing the border in the coming days, during the Shavuot holiday.

‘Stay Away from Sinai’

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a stern warning Thursday evening, urging Israelis to refrain from visiting neighboring Egypt, including the Sinai peninsula, a particularly popular travel destination among Israelis.

“Recently, the terror threat on Israel in the Sinai has been aggravated,” the advisory said.

The terror warnings received by authorities apparently refer to beaches familiar to and favored by Israeli travelers.

A senior Counter-Terror Bureau official told Ynet there are several intelligence tips that indicate the potential for a terror attack against Israelis in Sinai is high.

Israelis should “leave Sinai as quickly as possible,” he said. “The risk is too severe.”

Previous Warnings Ignored

Notably, many Israelis chose to ignore previous warnings to refrain from traveling to Egypt, a decision that drew harsh criticism in Israel following a series of terror attacks on Sinai targets that left Israeli tourists dead.

Following the terror strikes, officials considered the imposition of financial sanctions on those who ignore warnings, but a decision on the matter has not yet been taken.

Israel Releases 398 Palestinian Prisoners, Two Refuse to Go Home

Amos Harel; Arnon Regular; Nadav Shragai

Israel Releases 398 Palestinian Prisoners, Two Refuse to Go Home



Israel released 398 Palestinian prisoners yesterday, thereby fulfilling a promise made to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in February.

Two other prisoners had been slated for release, but refused to go. One said he wanted to stay to complete his matriculation examinations, while the other wanted to remain with his brother, who was not being freed.

The released prisoners included ones from Fatah, Hamas and the leftist factions, but none from Islamic Jihad, because that organization has attempted several attacks against Israel recently. None of those freed was involved in fatal attacks against Israelis. Unlike in previous releases, however, many had not yet completed serving two-thirds of their sentence.

Brigadier General Miki Barel, commander of the Military Police, said he heard prisoners expressing hope that this was the start of a genuine change in Israeli-Palestinian relations, unlike the sentiments expressed in previous prisoner releases over which he has presided.

An Israel Defense Forces bus brought the prisoners to the Erez checkpoint in Gaza and to four checkpoints in the West Bank. Many of the prisoners’ families had been awaiting their arrival at the checkpoints since early morning.

The 77 prisoners who were let off at Bitounia, southwest of Ramallah, were promptly taken into the city for a festive reception at PA headquarters in the Muqata and a visit to Yasser Arafat’s grave. Dozens of armed members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades escorted them, firing in the air en route. Abbas, who underwent an angioplasty procedure in Jordan on Wednesday, was not present, so the prisoners were greeted instead by his bureau chief, Tayyib Abd al-Rahim.

One of the most prominent prisoners released yesterday was Abu Hassan Al-Hijawi, 46, who has done several stints in Israeli jails over the years because of his membership in Fatah. He was most recently arrested in 2002 and sentenced to eight years in jail. In Meggido Prison, he maintained close contact with the PA, the press and prisoners in other jails, and gradually assumed the role of spokesman for all the Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

After reuniting with his wife and two daughters in Nablus yesterday, Al-Hijawi said he and the other freed prisoners were looking forward to playing an active role in the PA’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

“The time has come to make order in the Fatah movement, and to impose discipline on its members, in order to succeed in the elections,” he said. “The current generation of prisoners is less disciplined and less committed to the idea than the veteran prisoners. But just as we spoke to them in jail, we will speak with them outside, because we need to revitalize Fatah and its popularity in the Palestinian street.”

Nadav Shragai adds:

Almagor, an association of terror victims, denounced the release, charging that the freed prisoners included people who planted bombs that could have caused multiple casualties had they not been discovered in time, people involved in weapons production, and people who sent others on attacks. Some of those freed refused to sign a declaration to refrain from terror in the future, said Almagor head Meir Indor. He also charged that, contrary to official proclamations, Islamic Jihad members were freed yesterday.