The severe travel advisory and the closure of the border crossing from Israel to Egypt did not prevent many Israelis from ignoring their country’s pleas to return home from the Sinai Peninsula.
Neither did the rocket fire from Sinai into Israel nor the report that an unidentified aircraft attacked Egyptian Rafah.
Families with children still head to the traditionally popular vacation spot with its pristine beaches and Red Sea coral reefs.
Gil Lahav, an Israeli who entered Sinai before the closure of the crossing, told Ynet, “For the first time in 15 years, Israelis really passionately want to come to Sinai, despite the advisories. Overnight, anyone who had the option came to Sinai via Jordan, even though you need a foreign passport for that, not an Israeli one. Israelis don’t want anyone to take their piece of heaven from them.”
Crossing through Jordan was the only practical way for Israelis who were in the Jewish state to get to Egypt after the closure of the Taba crossing.
One of the vacationers said that she did not intend to return to Israel, despite the advisories. “It’s quiet and calm here. There’s a guard here—you see them guarding all the time. It’s just as important to the Bedouins as it is to us to be protected and safe,” she said, referring to the ethnic group that runs the resort where she was vacationing. “I’m sad for them because it’s their livelihood. They’re really trying.”
The owner of a beach in Sinai expressed his frustration at the situation, saying, “We are depressed. We live from Passover; it’s a blow for us. On Sukkot, when masses of Israelis came, we hadn’t prepared, but this time we prepared the beaches, renovated, ordered equipment, and now everything is wasted.”
Meanwhile, the Israelis who stayed at home are disappointed. Ira, from Tel Aviv, said she was scheduled to arrive tomorrow by plane: “I waited for this trip a lot, took time off from work and ordered a flight ticket to Eilat. I don’t believe this happened. We’ll probably go to Aqaba, since we already have a plane ticket.”
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)