Israel Closes Egyptian Border After Deadly Blasts in Egypt's North

Egypt is waging a military campaign against Islamist extremist militants in the Sinai, who have been behind attacks on Egyptian civilians and soldiers as well as periodic rocket fire into Israel.

Later the same day, Daesh - speaking via a social-media account linked to the group - claimed responsibility for the attack.

The statement said that due to "the increased severity and immediacy of the threat", Yisrael Katz, who doubles as Israel's Transportation and Intelligence minister, chose to close the Taba border crossing for Israelis to enter Egypt until the end of the Passover holiday next week.

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement Monday there was intel regarding a potential "terror attack" against tourists in the Sinai peninsula. The closure comes hours before the start of the Passover holiday, when Sinai is a popular destination for many Israelis.

The statement urged Israeli citizens in Sinai to leave immediately, emphasizing that the border would remain open to Israeli citizens returning to the country.

The crossing is a passageway connecting the resort city of Eilat in southern Israel and the resort town of Taba in Sinai.

Many Israeli nationals have already crossed through over the past few days, and others were expected to enter Egypt on Monday.

As was the case in the Egyptian church bombings on Palm Sunday, terrorist elements tend to step up attacks during Jewish and Christian holiday seasons.

The Cairo attack is the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt's Christian minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population of 92 million and has been repeatedly targetted by the Islamic extremists.

The weeklong festival is widely celebrated in Israel even among otherwise nonreligious Jews.

In the nearly four years since the coup, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed across the restive peninsula.

The military forces in cooperation with the police have recently announced eliminating terrorists at Central Sinai's Mount Halal area, a part of North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Israel offered condolences to the families of the victims of two bombing attacks on churches in Egypt and called for a worldwide fight against terrorism.

  • Jon Douglas