Israelis warned to avoid Sinai over Sukkot festival

AFP , Monday 10 Oct 2011

Tel Aviv urges Israeli nationals to vacate the restive peninsula one day before a week-long Jewish holiday

Sharm el-Sheikh
Photo file: A tourist walks near a red flag positioned on a beach to prohibit swimming and diving at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Photo: Reuters)

Israelis on Monday were officially advised to steer clear of the Sinai Peninsula in neighbouring Egypt during the upcoming Jewish festival of Sukkot, Israel’s anti-terror bureau said in a statement.

"In light of the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, the anti-terror bureau reiterates its severe travel warning in respect to the Sinai, and recommends against travelling there," it said, urging all Israelis currently staying to "leave the area immediately" and return to Israel.

Resorts dotted along the Red Sea in the Sinai are a popular holiday destination for Israelis seeking a relatively cheap break in the sun.

But since the start of the massive uprising in Egypt which toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security in the peninsula has deteriorated significantly, with Egypt sending troops into the area to try to bring it back under control.

Over the past eight months, militants in the Sinai have blown up a pipeline supplying gas to the self-proclaimed Jewish state at least six times.

Sukkot, which begins at sundown on Wednesday, is a week-long holiday during which people eat and sleep in makeshift booths in their gardens to remember the tents in which the Jewish people lived for 40 years in the desert, according to the Bible.

The holiday, which is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is one of three pilgrimage festivals during which Jews are commanded to visit Jerusalem.

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