After Egypt church bombings, Israel closes southern border with Sinai

Posted April 11, 2017

While no one was injured, a 50-year-old man was treated for an anxiety attack. The plastic sheeting that served as the roof the greenhouse was damaged, but the structure remained standing.

It was the first time since 2015 that rockets had been fired at Israel from Egypt.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has declared a state of emergency for three months after two suicide bombings killed scores of Christians in two church attacks on Palm Sunday.

The attack came as Jews in Israel were preparing for the holiday of Passover, and shortly after the government made a decision to close its side of the Taba Border Crossing between Eilat and Egypt in light of concerns of terrorist attacks targeting tourists in the volatile Sinai region.

The border closure comes a day after militants in Egypt bombed two churches, killing dozens of Christian worshippers during Palm Sunday ceremonies.

Until at least April 18, the directive said, Israel will not permit its citizens to enter the Sinai through the Taba crossing; Israelis now on the peninsula can return to Israel.

In its statement, the Israeli government said their intelligence indicates "increased activity" by the Islamic State in Sinai and a "desire to commit terrorist attacks against tourists in Sinai, including Israelis, in the immediate term". Monday's travel warning was unusual in its urgency and it is rare for the Taba crossing to be shut down. But southern Sinai, with its pristine beaches and Red Sea coral reefs, has traditionally been a popular Israeli tourist destination - especially for secular Israelis during the Passover holiday.

The ban will be in effect at the Taba crossing at least until April 18, the end of the Jewish holiday of Passover that begins at sundown on Monday, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. IS took responsibility for the attacks. It only applies to Israeli citizens; foreigners will be allowed to cross the border.