Gaza-Egypt border. Tight security
Photo: AFP

'Palestinians plan to fire rockets from Sinai'

Egyptian security services receive information that terror activists have managed to infiltrate peninsula from Gaza, plan to fire rockets into Israel. Security boosted in border area

Egypt's security forces on Sunday declared a heightened state of alert in Sinai after receiving information that members of Palestinian organizations, who infiltrated the peninsula from the Gaza Strip, were planning to fire rockets at Israel in the coming days.


Palestinian news agency Maan reported that according to the information received, the Palestinian elements have already infiltrated the Egyptian territory. According to other sources, however, those terror activists have yet to cross the Gaza-Egypt border.


Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. Real fear of rocket fire (Photo: AFP)


Following the warnings, Egypt declared a state of emergency in Sinai, particularly in the northern part of the peninsula, and the security around the border area, where the Palestinians are operating smuggling tunnels, has been reinforced.


According to the report, the Egyptian security forces are patrolling the desert area in a bid to locate the organization members, who are likely planning to fire the rockets within the next few days.


Israelis: Sinai 'safer than Israel'

Egyptian security forces may have raised the alert level, but Israelis refuse to let this dampen their Sinai vacation. Despite reports of a militant group which entered the Gaza Strip and intended to fire rockets at Israel, in el-Arish, a town in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, there have been no reports of increased movement at the border. Furthermore, vacation hotspots have seen no reduction in numbers.


Mahar Galbane, a resident of El-Arish and owner of a vacation site in the Red Sea town of Bir Swir, told Ynet the warnings seem to have little effect on those in the area. Dozens of Israelis are staying at his site and he expects full occupancy as Sukkoth approaches.


"Nothing dramatic is happening," Galbane said. "This isn't the first warning, and not the second either. If they are searching and ensuring security, that's good, but in the El-Arish area there's no feeling of anything being different. If it was, my family would have told me. There's always chaos before Israeli holidays."


Gil from Raanana comes "almost every three weeks" to the area with his family. He was there during Yom Kippur with his children and even with his 72-year-old grandmother.


"We don't feel anything here," he said. "The Sinai is three times bigger than Israel and the threat is nine hours from here. The tourist area here has security that not even Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or London have."


"It's not by chance that nothing has happened here for six years, and 13 million tourists come each year," he added. "It's not by chance that Bibi (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) came here. Sinai is paradise, and rumors that reach the headlines don’t really affect us when we're in paradise. It's like Amsterdam."

Israelis in Sinai. 'It's calm here' (Archive photo: Avigail Uzi)


Uri, another Israeli enjoying the beach with his girlfriend, told Ynet about the feeling of tranquility.


"There're sea, sand and food," he said. "We have fun, and it's certainly safer than Israel. We've been here for three days already and I don’t bother with those warnings. I'm having my vacation on my beach. This won't make me go someplace else."


Ofir, from Tel Aviv, came to the Sinai for the first time with three friends, but he too is unconcerned.


"We heard about it only now, but it's calm here," he said. "It shouldn't stress us. It's no more than yet another media report, and we'll come back within a few months."


The tensions along the Eilat coast have been high in recent days. Last week, the US Embassy in Jordan released an unusual statement, warning its citizens against an anticipated terror attack in Aqaba. The Americans said that according to solid information, a terror attack may take place in the port city any minute.


About a month and a half ago, a taxi driver was killed as a barrage of rockets fired from Sinai towards Eilat hit Aqaba. Two of the rockets landed in northern Eilat without causing injuries.


Several days later, after initial denials, the Egyptian authorities confirmed that the rockets were launched from Sinai in a move likely initiated by Hamas.


Security sources in Cairo blamed the Palestinian organization members, saying they infiltrated the peninsula through tunnels located between the Rafah area and northern Sinai.


Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 09.19.10, 15:00
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