Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
September 14, 2008 - 8:00pm

Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorists are in the advanced stages of plotting to kidnap Israeli tourists from Sinai beaches and transfer them secretly to the Gaza Strip, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau announced on Monday.

The warning came amid growing concern in Israel that Palestinian terrorists have recently infiltrated Egypt via tunnels connecting Gaza and Sinai and are planning attacks against Israeli tourists there. Hizbullah, officials said, also sought to kidnap Israelis in retaliation for the February assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.

The bureau's warning was issued just two weeks before Rosh Hashana, when thousands of Israelis travel to Sinai. The bureau advised Israelis currently there to return home immediately.

On Sunday, the IDF issued a blanket order prohibiting soldiers in mandatory service, career soldiers and civilians working for the military from traveling to Sinai. A written order was issued to all IDF soldiers.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed the gravity of the threat and urged Israelis on Monday to refrain from visiting the Sinai desert.

"I call on everyone to take these warnings seriously and simply not to travel there in the near future," Barak said. "I am sure that there will be a time when it will be possible to visit there, but now is not that time."

While the defense establishment is concerned with the growing threat in the Sinai desert, Israel does not have any legal means by which it can prevent civilians from visiting there. Due to the peace agreement with Egypt, Israel is not allowed to close to the border.


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