Intelligence officials have raised a major terror alert in southern Israel and warned all hikers to leave the area immediately.
The order does not affect trips within the city of Eilat, which borders Egypt. All school tours in the area have been abruptly halted, and schoolchildren were bused outside of the south.
Speculation was raised that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was referring to a possible terror alert when he said during a memorial service in the Central Negev for Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, “We have suffered several terrorist attacks the past several months, and since then there have been more attempts to attack.”
Last August, a multi-pronged terrorist attack killed eight Israelis and wounded more than two dozen others on a highway to Eilat on the western side of the thin Arava region. The road borders Egypt, and witnesses said that terrorists attacks under the noses of Egyptian soldiers manning patrol towers.
The IDF has raised its alert level in the area since the recent election campaign in Egypt because of fears that terrorists will try to exploit anti-Israel sentiment in the country and attack Israelis.
A new Eilat Brigade was established to concentrate on the Arava region that stretches from the Central Negev to Eilat. The border with Egypt, once the quietest in Israel, has been extremely pervious to African infiltrators seeking a better standard of living in Israel.,
Construction of a fence along the border will reduce the infiltrations, but it will not be completed for at least another year.