Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: The vacation must go on

April 16, 2008 | 10:35 am

Sinai_camel_2

Amid dire warnings of impending attacks, up to 50,000 Israeli tourists are expected to flood into the Sinai Peninsula for Passover vacation, which technically starts Sunday but realistically began about two days ago for many Israelis.

Sinai, which was occupied by Israel from 1967 to 1982, remains close to the hearts of many Israelis, who still frequent the many tranquil huts-on-the-beach campsites and scuba diving hot spots along the western Sinai coast. Depending on how a customer looks, shop owners in Sinai resort towns like Dahab will occasionally bust out some Hebrew, especially during peak Israeli vacation times like this.

The Israeli fondness for Sinai has withstood not only generally hostile feelings toward them on the part of many Egyptians but a series of terrorist attacks in Sinai towns like Sharm El Sheikh and Taba. Even when all the American and European tourists were scared away from Egypt for months at a time, a certain percentage of the Israelis kept on coming.

Which is why the current crop of Sinai  attack warnings probably won't derail many Israelis' Sinai vacation plans. Egyptian officials say they are searching for several carloads of armed militants seeking to attack tourists, and Israel issued a travel advisory warning of an "imminent" attack threat on Sinai tourists. Knowing that many people simply won't heed the warnings, some Israeli politicians have even suggested simply sealing the Taba border crossing into  Egypt.

—Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem

Photo: Sinai's many pristine beach continue to draw Israelis even when their government is warning  them to stay away. Credit: Public domain

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