Terror offensive in Egypt: At least 23 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded after three huge explosions rocked the tourist resort of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula around 8:15 p.m. Monday evening.
Israel's Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen said no Israelis were killed in the blast, al-Jazeera reported.
The Foreign Ministry offered Israel's assistance in the wake of the blasts, but Egypt declined.
According to Egypt's Interior Ministry, the explosions occurred at the restaurant, a cafeteria, and a supermarket. According to a senior Egyptian rescue official, many of those killed in the attack are tourists.
Egypt's official television network reported the attacks were carried out through the use of remotely detonated explosive devices. Egyptian officials said the bombings were not the work of suicide bombers, but the accuracy of the assessments is unclear.
Earlier, the Magen David Adom ambulance service offered assistance to Egypt and prepared to airlift rescue teams to Sinai. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also instructed officials to offer Israeli aid and ordered the IDF to prepare for extending any assistance required by the Egyptians.
Terror attack scene (Photo: Reuters)
MDA Director Eli Bin said the rescue organization is ready to provide help if necessary.
"We conveyed an offer of assistance through the Foreign Ministry and the Red Cross," he said. "We learned lessons from the past. In the Taba disaster preparations took a long time and we didn't know if the Egyptians will allow us to offer help. This time we're not waiting for the Egyptian call."
Attack carried out in area popular among tourists (Photo: Reuters)
"We rushed ambulances and paramedics to the Taba crossing. We'll be ready to send 50 ambulances and paramedics within 10 minutes, if we're only asked," he said.
Egypt's President Mubarak condemned the attacks and referred to them as an "act of terrorists, the country's official news agency reported. The Egyptian leader warned those behind the bombings would be punished severely.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Mubarak and offered his condolences in the wake of the attack. Olmert told Mubarak Israel and Egypt must join forces to combat global terror. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also called her Egyptian counterpart and the two discussed the attack.
'Terrorists again ruined our lives'
Hani, a Dahab resident who works at a diving school, told Ynet the blasts were loud and prompted tourists to debate whether to head out to the streets or remain indoors.
"We were at least 20 people and there was panic," he said. "We're very scared, but everything will be alright. Many left and many are already trying to leave town." He noted that the area is popular with European tourists who come to dive in the region.
A man staying at tourist resort near the site of the attacks told Ynet "people were flying in the air" after the three explosions rocked the area and added the bombings targeted a small compound consisting of three businesses, which were completely destroyed.
"The terrorists again ruined our lives and I hope that somehow we'll be able to salvage the situation," he said.
The man, who declined to be identified, said Egyptian security forces were flocking to the area and reported a commotion and cries of pain at the site.
"It's a huge mess but security forces are doing everything to take control of the situation he said, and added that tourists are making their way out of the town.
"They ruined Dahab for us," he concluded, speaking about the terrorists.
"There is smoke coming from the area and there are people running everywhere," one eyewitness said shortly following the explosion. "There were body parts and debris in the street ... there are ambulances and cars taking people to hospital," said another resident who also did not want to be named.
A French tourist told AFP "there was plenty of smoke and people were running away screaming" following the blasts and added local police blocked all exits to the town.
Israelis allowed back without passports
At one point Monday night, Egypt closed its borders with Israel in order to prevent terror suspects involved in the bombings from escaping. According to the report, the border closure may have delayed Israelis who wished to return to Israel.
Following the blasts, Israeli workers at the Taba terminal crossing were called in and the IDF boosted its alert level. Terminal manager Itzik Chai told Ynet that despite government advisories, at least 25,000 Israelis crossed into Egypt between April 11-22.
Following the blasts, senior Interior Ministry official Sasi Katzir instructed workers at the terminal to allow Israelis back into Israel even without a passport. Meanwhile, police and Border Guard forces are preventing entry into Egypt.
Meanwhile, the Nazarin Tours travel agency in Nazareth, which plans many trips to Sinai, is closely monitoring developments in Sinai.
"All of us returned to the office and even though we don't have customers vacationing in the Dahab area we're worried and are following events with concern," agency manager Ghanem Abu Sif told Ynet. Many families headed to Sinai to spend the Easter holiday, Abu Sif said, while agency workers attempted to contact Israelis who headed to Egypt.
Recently, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned against a "genuine threat" to the safety of Israeli travelers to Egypt.
"The threat of abducting Israelis in Sinai has worsened," the warning read and advised Israelis to leave Egypt immediately.
Roee Nahmias, Meital Yasur-Beit Or, Seya Egozi, Hanan Greenberg, Ronny Sofer, Sharon Roffe Ophir and news agencies contributed to the report