Israeli Tourist in Sinai: We’re Not Afraid, There Are Also Terror Warnings in Europe
Some Israeli citizens traveling in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula were undeterred by an urgent warning issued by their government on Tuesday that called on them to return home, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
“We’re not afraid, there are also warnings in Europe,” one Israeli tourist in Sinai was quoted as saying.
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday elevated the risk level in Sinai to 1 — an “extreme concrete threat.” The warning noted that the sixth anniversary on Wednesday of the outbreak of the 2011 revolution that brought down the government of Hosni Mubarak could see violence in Egypt.
While the number of Israeli tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts in southern Sinai — a short drive from Eilat — have dropped since the pre-revolution era, the flow of visitors from the Jewish state has not completely stopped.
“There are warnings all the time,” one Israeli woman stated. “It’s very relaxed here, I feel at home. I have fun here. Israelis come here all the time.”
Another Israeli woman said, “If we lived all the time on the basis of fear, we’d never leave the house. Sinai is thirsty for Israeli tourism. I don’t always feel protected 24/7, but there is magic in the air and peace of mind [in Sinai].”
The Egyptian owner of a resort in Nuweiba told Channel 2, “We don’t feel anything here. You must remember that Sinai is a very big place. There is a bigger chance that ISIS will be closer to Jerusalem or Gaza than to us. We are careful to protect the safety of tourists here, and the police also do this well.”
In recent years, the Egyptian military has been battling ISIS-affiliated fighters in northern and central Sinai. The Sinai branch of ISIS claimed responsibility for the October 2015 bombing of a Russian charter plane after takeoff from the southern Sinai city of Sharm El Sheikh in which 224 people were killed.
More than a decade ago, in October 2004, 12 Israelis and one Israeli-American were among the 34 people killed in bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists in Taba and Ras al-Shitan.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel (as part of which Sinai — which had been taken control of by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War — was given back), though the relationship has at times been strained over the years. Israel-Egypt ties have improved since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took power in Cairo in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel and Egypt share a number of regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS in the Sinai and Hamas in Gaza.
In July, as reported by The Algemeiner, Sameh Shoukry became the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel since 2007.
However, as The Algemeiner reported, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public.