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Israel reopens highway 6 months after Eilat attacks

Highway near Egypt-Israel border reopens six months after unknown gunmen kill 10 Israeli bus passengers and Israel kills six Egyptian border guards

Ahram Online , Sunday 26 Feb 2012
Israel
An Egyptian watch tower is seen close to the construction site of a barrier on the border between Israel and Egypt along Israel's Highway 12, February 15, (Photo: Reuters).
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Israel's Route 12, a highway leading to the southern port city of Eilat, reopened on Sunday for the first time since an attack on a bus killed 10 people in August.

Israeli authorities claimed the attackers entered the country through Egyptian territory. Part of the highway is adjacent to the Egyptian-Israeli border and runs parallel to the Taba-Rafah highway.

The IDF stated that "a portion of the road between the Sayarim Junction and the Netafim checkpoint is open to traffic from 8am to 5pm."

Israeli newspapers said security had been boosted along the road to prevent a recurrence of the attack. Nevertheless, the IDF is not allowing passengers to go off road between the highway and the Egyptian border.

Reports said a new 23-feet high safety barrier is under construction along the previously poorly protected border. One hunded kilometers has already been completed. Ditches were also dug parellel to the road.

Although the identity of the bus attackers remains unknown, Israel instantly retaliated by killing a commander of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a Palestinian resistance group.

Neither the PRC nor Hamas – the other party blamed by Israel – has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israeli soldiers killed six Egyptian border guards inside Egyptian territory when attempting to pursue the gunmen. Outraged Egyptians subsequently attacked Israel's embassy in Cairo and forced the ambassador's evacuation.

Israel has set up observation posts that "can monitor activity deep within the Sinai Peninsula - in Egyptian territory," said Israel's rightwing daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

Intelligence resources on "terrorist groups that operate in Sinai" are also to be expanded, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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