CAIRO: A security adviser has disputed the authenticity of a tip that four Palestinians were in South Sinai to set off a series of attacks targeting Israeli tourists.
On Sunday, media reports had indicated that Egyptian security forces looking were looking for four Palestinian men amid an elevated alert level.
The reports said four Palestinians had illegally crossed the Gaza-Egyptian border in Northern Sinai.
Former Deputy of Egyptian State Security General Foad Allam disputed the authenticity of the tip and told The Daily Star Egypt that it probably originated from Israel. “No Egyptian security official would declare this beforehand, simply because it would alert any terrorists that we are on the lookout for them which would make things more difficult, Allam said.
Allam believes that this is part of a concerted Israeli effort to create the impression that Egypt is unstable. “Israel has been doing this for two years now, using the media and releasing statements to this effect Allam said, “they want to make Egypt look unsafe and create a negative impression of the security of the country, especially to the US.
Allam added that another reason for this whole Israeli-led media campaign was to pit Egyptian security services against Palestinians. He told The Daily Star Egypt “[Israel] are trying to induce a high level of alertness in Egyptian security services against the Palestinians for their own ends.
On Sunday Israel requested that the holiday-makers return immediately. Danny Arditi, the chief of Israel s anti-terrorist bureau, told Israeli army radio We call on the several hundred Israelis who are currently in the Sinai to return immediately. He added that Israeli intelligence had surmised that “two or three attacks were being planned in the area.
The Israeli government, meanwhile, says that the advisories are simply a reminder – and not considered a new warning – for travelers heading into Sinai.
This is a very old warning, says Amira Rona, a spokeswoman with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who notes that the Israeli government has issued similar travel advisories regarding travel to Sinai for the past few years.
We know that Sinai isn t a very safe place for Israelis, she says.
Rona adds that the reminder was issued after Israeli papers ran the story that Palestinian fugitives were on the loose in Sinai.
She also denies the assertion that the warning was issued as a means of stirring up trouble with Egypt. Every government is responsible for its citizens [and] in Sinai, there is a problem. Even the Egyptians are tackling this problem and are struggling to catch people from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who are trying to harm international terrorism.
She adds that though many Israeli s flock to Sinai as a vacation retreats, they should do so with caution.
They take a risk. We all remember what happened in Taba.
Between October 2004 and April 2006, attacks in the Sinai resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Dahab have claimed the lives of 124 people. A security alert was raised last August after another tip off that there were five fighters in the region intending to attack Israeli tourists, but no such attack occurred.
Three Egyptians implicated in the Taba bombings were condemned to death last Thursday in the city of Ismailiya by a special court.
According to Allam, terrorist cells in Sinai have all but been wiped out. A few remain, but they are ineffective for the most part.