Urgent Warning For Israelis Amid Kidnap Plot
7:14am UK, Wednesday April 14, 2010
An Israeli may have been kidnapped in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, according to officials who have issued an urgent warning to get all Israelis out of the area.
The bureau’s head official has taken the unusual step of telling Israeli media that authorities are urgently investigating whether such an operation has already been carried out successfully.
Brigadier General Yehuda Nuriel told Ynet news website new intelligence suggests a "terror cell" was in a position to launch an abduction.
"It's hard to know whether the cell is en-route to the area, or whether it already carried out the operation."
Beaches in Sinai are popular with touristsIsraeli authorities urged all Israelis to contact relatives on vacation in the Sinai to check on their welfare.
The warning was designed to ensure all Israelis in the region are accounted for and establish whether any are missing.
Israelis are used to hearing travel warnings about the risk of attack and kidnap in the Sinai.
This latest advisory was a step up from those warnings because it urges Israelis to leave the peninsula.
Brig Gen Nuriel claims Hamas is the most likely organisation behind any kidnap attempt, hoping to abduct and transport an Israeli through a smuggling tunnel from Egypt into Gaza.
Hamas already holds Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized in June 2006 in a cross-border operation into southern Israel.
His capture prompted a major Israeli operation in Gaza that failed to secure his release.
Hamas hopes to exchange Shalit and any more soldiers it can abduct in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israelis.
Numerous attempts to negotiate a prisoner exchange deal have so far failed.
:: In 2004, suicide bombers attacked Egypt's Taba Hilton Hotel, just across the Israeli border, and several campsites where Israelis are known to stay on holiday.
Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded.
Israel controlled the Sinai Peninsula from its capture in the 1967 war until returning it to Egypt in 1982 in the framework of a peace treaty between the two nations.