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Israel reopens Taba crossing to Egypt

AFP , Friday 21 Apr 2017
Taba crossing
File Photo: Taba border crossing. (Photo by Ahram)
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Israel reopened a border crossing into Egypt's Sinai region Friday after a more than week-long closure due to security threats, but urged its citizens to avoid visiting the peninsula.

A statement from the prime minister's office said that based on an assessment at the counter-terrorism bureau, "it has been decided to allow the exit of Israeli citizens to Sinai via the Taba crossing."

"At the same time the counter-terror bureau stresses that the threat to Israelis in Sinai remains severe, concrete and immediate," the statement added, calling on citizens to avoid visiting the area and for those already there to leave.

The counter-terrorism bureau had on April 10 taken the rare step of closing the crossing into Egypt, citing increased security threats, a day after a series of deadly bomb attacks on Egyptian churches and just hours before a rocket from the Sinai hit southern Israel.

The closure infuriated Israelis planning on spending their Passover vacation in the Sinai, a popular destination for the week-long holiday.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian policeman was killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint near St Catherine's monastery in the Sinai, in an attack claimed by Islamic State group (IS) militants. 

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who is also intelligence minister, said on Friday that the decision to close the crossing was based on "concrete threats" to Israelis in the Sinai over Passover, against a backdrop of increased activity of IS's Sinai branch and the attacks in Egypt.

*This story has been edited by Ahram Online

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