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      IDF Orders Eilat Airport Shut Down

      A security assessment led to the immediate shutdown of the southern airport.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 8/8/2013, 7:31 PM

      El Al airplanes
      El Al airplanes
      Flash 90

      The IDF ordered the immediate shutdown of the airport at Eilat Thursday to all arriving and departing flights, following an unspecified security assessment.

      The assessment is most likely linked to terrorist activity in the Sinai desert, which borders on the southern port city.

      Takeoffs of flights headed north were initially allowed to take place but were also stopped later in the evening. 

      The IDF will open the airfield at Uvda as an alternate landing spot for flights diverted from Eilat.

      The Egyptian military has been conducting a large scale offensive against terror cells that operate in Sinai, in the last few weeks. The IDF has assessed that terrorists will try to launch rockets at Eilat.

      In April, it was reported that Israeli planes taking off from Eilat will be armed with anti-missile systems due to the threat of shoulder-carried anti-aircraft missiles that could be fired from the Sinai desert.

      The security establishment is aware that terrorists in Sinai have armed themselves with man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS. The initial thought was to intermittently close down the Eilat airport, but the decision eventually reached was to arm planes taking off from the airport with anti-missile systems.