Eilat Airport Closed, Then Re-opened

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 8, 2013 Updated: August 8, 2013

UPDATE: A spokeswoman said that Eilat Airport in Israel was re-opened, saying that the decision was made “after a new situation report.”

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The Eilat Airport in Israel was closed on Thursday to incoming planes, while outgoing planes were still allowed to leave.

The Israel Defense Forces made the decision, reported the Jewish Press. The IDF didn’t explain the order except to say that the decision was made “following an estimate of the situation.”

“Civilian airports are managed in coordination with the Israel Air Force and Israel Airports Authority, in accordance with security assessments,” the IDF said in a statement, according to Haaretz

The Israeli Aviation Authority said that the air field was closed for landings as part of heightened security concerns about Islamist militant activity in Sinai, according to Reuters

The airport, also known as J. Hozman Airport, is located in the city of Eilat. Eilat, on Israel’s southern tip, is a major destination for domestic and international tourists. It is close to Egypt’s increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula. Militants have fired rockets from the Sinai toward Eilat in the past, but it was not immediately clear if concern about rocket fire prompted the current closure.

The move comes after the United States closed embassies and consulates across the Middle East over the weekend, and some facilities remain closed until at least August 10, including the two U.S. embassies closest to Israel, in Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan. 

Like Israel officials, the United States didn’t say much about why the embassies are closed.

“The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety considerations,” the Cairo embassy said in a security message to U.S. citizens. ” However, beyond this announcement we do not discuss specific threat information, security considerations or measures, or other steps we may be taking.”

The message did say: “As a matter of general practice, U.S. citizens should avoid areas where large gatherings may occur. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.”

Story developing; will be updated

The Associated Press contributed to this report.