Some two hours after it was ordered closed, the Eilat Airport was reopened. Planes will begin arriving and leaving the airport before midnight Thursday. The reopening was ordered by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
Earlier, the airport was ordered closed, although the IDF did not give any specific reason for the closing. Officials in Eilat said that it was most likely connected to an assessment of increased terrorist activity in the Sinai desert, which borders on the southern port city. The officials said that it was unlikely connected to the general warning for the Middle East issued by the United States, which saw 20 embassies in the region closed over concerns that a terror attack was imminent.
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.