Barak Looking at Closing Sinai Border During Hot Alerts
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed officials in his ministry to examine the possibility of a new law which would allow security officials to close Israel’s border with the Sinai Peninsula whenever there is an alert of a possible terror attack or kidnapping in the area.
Barak’s instructions were made following recent assessments made by the army and intelligence agencies.
Speaking during a Defense Ministry assessment on Thursday, Barak said, “In light of the changes in the situation in the Sinai and the risks to Israelis there, I am ordering to examine the possibility of allowing the competent authorities to close the border to Sinai when needed.”
He added, “Unfortunately, even when there are hot alerts about attacks or the possibility of kidnapping Israelis in Sinai, some Israelis ignore them and still go to the Peninsula. We need to act now and not wake up when an abduction or attack happen.”
The Sinai Peninsula has been in a state of anarchy since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year. Terror groups have taken advantage of the situation to carry out attacks from the region.
Last month, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a serious warning against travelling to the Sinai Peninsula, and called on Israelis vacationing in the area to leave immediately.
It was later reported that the warning was prompted by the release of an Al-Qaeda operative from a prison in Gaza and his return to Sinai.
Another warning issued by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Wednesday reiterated the travel warning to the Sinai and said that Israelis should avoid any visit to that area.