The Arab tourists from Nazereth and nearby Galilee villages were traveling in one of several buses, on their way back to Israel from an organized trip to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Some of the passengers later said the driver, an Egyptian, was speeding down a steep road, narrowly missing another bus just before overturning. Several of them said they yelled at him to slow down, but that he ignored them.
Yehuda Shoshani, the southern district director of Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency response service, later said that Egypt rebuffed many requests from Israel by the Foreign Ministry, the IDF and border officials to allow emergency crews and vehicles to enter the area.
Instead, the wounded lay untended by the roadside for three hours, one eyewitness said, until a lone Egyptian ambulance arrived. Passing Egyptian cars sped by, ignoring the injured. Eventually, the wounded were taken to the local hospital - described by some as nothing more than a clinic - at Nueiba. Once there, the Egyptians delayed the evacuation of the patients to Israeli hospitals, despite their pleas.
Labor MK Nadi Hilu, an Arab woman, called on all Israelis to cancel all travel plans to Egypt in protest of the way the Egyptians mishandled the wounded and dead. Some of the injured Israeli-Arab tourists said they would never visit Egypt again.
Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, under which Israel transferred control of the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Relations between Israel and Egypt are generally described as "cold," because of the following and other reasons:
* Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment is prevalent in the press
* Tourism and trade from Egypt to Israel is practically non-existent
* The Egyptian Ambassador has often been recalled
* Egypt is widely believed to be doing little to stop arms-smuggling from the Sinai into Israel
* The Egyptian Army often trains for war against Israel
* President Hosni Mubarak refuses to visit Israel.
Arutz-7's Hana Levi Julian notes that yesterday's situation echoed a similar scenario played out this past April after three terrorist explosions ripped through the Red Sea resort town of Dahab. MDA ambulances were not allowed to enter the Sinai Peninsula to provide assistance and transport for the injured Israeli citizens. MDA medics were instead forced to receive the dozens of injured Israelis from Red Crescent ambulances.
The Foreign Ministry estimates that approximately 5,000 Israelis have entered Egypt within the past week.