Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning on Monday warning citizens to avoid traveling to the Sinai Peninsula, and urging those present to leave the area immediately.
Designated a level one threat, the warning was issued ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday, and cites what the bureau calls credible intelligence. It refers to a “very high, concrete threat,” and calls on Israelis visiting the Sinai Peninsula to heed the travel warning, and to contact their families back home.
While the North Sinai governorate has been witness to targeted attacks for several years, the central Sinai Peninsula has recently seen an increase in armed clashes between security forces and Islamist militants associated with the Province of Sinai, an Egyptian-based Islamic State affiliate.
Egypt’s military spokesperson issued a statement on Thursday announcing that 10 Armed Forces personnel based in the central Sinai region were killed during security operations, alongside 15 others the statement refers to as extremists, although the locations of the clashes were not disclosed.
The spokesperson also announced the destruction of storage depots used to house explosives and four-wheel-drive vehicles containing grenades, ammunition and electronics. Explosive devices targeting two military vehicles were also detonated, resulting in the deaths of security personnel.
Province of Sinai also circulated a statement via social media networks on Thursday claiming responsibility for the bombing of two armored vehicles in the Gabal al-Halal region in the central Sinai Peninsula.
On the same day the Interior Ministry announced the death of a police captain in the city of Arish, capital of the North Sinai governorate, who died during an armed confrontation with gunmen near the entrance to the city.
Central Sinai has remained largely isolated from the frequent violence which has plagued North Sinai, particularly since armed confrontations escalated between jihadist elements and security forces in 2013. However, the central region has seen an increasing number of operations since mid-2016, including sporadic militant attacks and coordinated security campaigns, particularly in Hasna, Nekhel and Gabal al-Halal.
The increase in targeted attacks carried out against Coptic Christians living in North Sinai in February has also lead to the displacement of hundreds of families, forced to relocate to other governorates, primarily Ismailia.