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At least 19 killed in Sinai bombings


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At least 19 killed in Sinai bombings


At least 19 people were killed and over 160 were wounded, both Israelis and other nationals, in two terror attacks against resorts in Sinai packed with Israelis late Thursday evening.

The exact number of Israelis killed in the attacks remains unknown, however OC Homefront Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said Friday morning 38 Israelis are missing.

122 Israelis have been evacuated from Taba and Ras Al-Satan to Israel. Two moderately wounded Israelis remain in a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh and will be airlifted to Israel later Friday.

Of the 122 Israeli casualties, seven are seriously wounded, 36 are moderately wounded and the rest suffered light wounds. A fatally wounded Israeli woman died of her wounds in the Josephthal hospital in Eilat.

According to initial findings Naveh said, a car bomb blew up at the entrance to the Hilton Taba Hotel and there was a combined bomb and shooting attack in two restaurants usually frequented by Israelis in Ras Al-Satan.

"The number of dead is not yet final. The Egyptian authorities are holding nine bodies, two of which, as we speak are being returned to Israel. In addition we spotted seven bodies among the hotel ruins in Taba that have yet to be extricated. We believe the fatalities will be higher and up until now we know that 38 Israelis are missing and are seeking to determine whether they are among the wounded or dead," he told reporters at a briefing at the Taba terminal crossing.

26 Magen David Adom ambulances and 60 Israeli paramedics are still in Egypt assisting the wounded and trying to negotiate with Egyptian officials the possibility of transporting the bodies of two Israelis. It remains unknown why Egypt is not allowing to transfer the bobies to Israel.

However, Egyptian officials Friday morning allowed the Homefront Command to transport heavy mechanical equipment and rescue personnel to Taba in order to begin clearing collapsed structures and start searching for survivors among the rubble. 38 bodies remain trapped in the rubble, Israeli rescue officials said.

Eight people were removed alive from the rubble.

Israeli paramedics operating in Taba reported that the bodies of dead Israelis were looted; their valuables and wallets were stolen.

The IDF has raised the alert level across the country following the attacks.

The first explosion was initially believed to be caused by two booby-trapped trucks and occurred around 10:00 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel in Taba on the Red Sea, near the Israel-Egypt border. Searches showed the engine of a car in the hotel's lobby, Army Radio reported.

Two smaller explosions occurred soon after in Ras a-Satan, a beach resort near Nuweiba south of Taba. Reports say two Israelis were killed in the attack at Ras a-Satan, and 40 people were wounded. The site, some 40 minutes from the border, is visited frequently by Israelis.

Eran, an Israeli visitor to Ras a-Satan said that as soon as the blasts went off, the resort's Beduin staff all gathered and stood guard at each of the entrances to the beach bungalows to protect their Israeli guests.

Amit, another visitor to Ras, said, "that's it, we will never go back to Sinai. This is the exodus from Egypt in 2004."

Over 100 wounded were evacuated to Josepthal Hospital in Eilat and 12 wounded were airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Josepthal Hospital Emergency number: 12-55-175

Soroka Medical Center Emergency number 1255177

Eilat Municipality Emergency number: 106.

Emergency numbers for missing persons: 08-6325852, 08-6373078.

Officials said there were 800 guests at the Taba Hotel, 100 of which were Egyptian nationals. Most of the Israelis staying at the hotel were not near the hotel's lobby, but were eating at the restaurant at the time of the blast.

Thousands of Israelis are leaving Sinai. The Foreign Ministry said there were between 12,000 to 15,000 Israelis in Sinai this week. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that Israel would help evacuate any of the Israelis who wish to leave Sinai.

Four hours after the blast collapsed a 10-story wing of the hotel, Israel's military was in command of the scene, said the army spokeswoman, Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron, but there were delays in sending in Israeli forces and rescue workers. Yaron, the Israeli army spokeswoman, said Israeli Brig. Gen. Efi Idan "took command over the event in Taba" four hours after the blast.

She complained, "We still have some trouble in sending over all of the forces and their equipment to Taba and I hope this will be sorted out soon."

"The whole front of the hotel has collapsed. There are dozens of people on the floor, lots of blood. It is very tense," witness Yigal Vakni told Army Radio. "I am standing outside of the hotel, the whole thing is burning and they have nothing to put it out with."

The Hilton Hotel in Taba is frequented by Israelis traveling to Sinai and many Israelis arrived there over the past days of the Succot and Simchat Torah holidays.

Itzik Chai, general manager of the Taba Crossing, said all Israeli medical units have gone through the border, and that some of the ambulances have gone further south than Taba. Everyone will be able to get through, with or without a passport, Chai said.

According to a report on Channel 2, Egyptian border guards are not allowing Israeli soldiers operating with the Homefront Command rescue crews from entering Egypt through the Taba crossing in their IDF uniforms. Homefront Command is considering dressing the soldiers in civilian clothing to allow quick access the Taba Hotel, where some people are still feared trapped under the rubble.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom asked that Egypt allow Israeli helicopters land in Sinai to evacuate the wounded. Egyptian officials have still not allowed the helicopters to reach the area. Shalom also asked that Israelis be allowed to pass in and out of Sinai without passport and security checks, to allow a quick return of Israelis back to the country and immediate entrance of medical personnel and Israeli officials into Sinai.

World Islamist Group takes responsibility

The deadly blast at the Hilton hotel in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Taba on the border with Israel was claimed by the previously unknown "World Islamist Group", in a telephone call to AFP in Jerusalem.

"Jamaa Al-Islamiya Al-Alamiya (World Islamist Group) claims responsibility for the explosion at the Taba Hotel, carried out in revenge for the Palestinian and Arab martyrs dying in Palestine and Iraq," the caller said.

"Jamaa will carry out a series of martyr operations (suicide attacks) during the month of Ramadan to avenge these martyrs," he said.

The holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins in mid-October.

In a sign that Egypt is taking the attacks very seriously, a high alert was placed on all Egyptian airports. Egyptian sources told Jerusalem that Egyptian military activity has cut off the Sinai Peninsula from the rest of the country, and the army is conducting searches in Sinai for other possible terror cells.

Southern Sinai Governor and Egyptian Tourism Minister arrived in Taba and promised Israel all possible assistance. The tourism industry is Egypt's second largest source of income, after customs and shipping levies in the Suez Canal.

Mustafa Afiffi, the governor of the southern Sinai Peninsula, said there were 105 casualties in the Taba attack, but could not disclose the condition of the victims. Thirteen of those seriously wounded, including some Israelis, were taken to a hospital in Sharm El-Sheikh. Some of the wounded were also taken to a hospital in Dahab. Reports on news agency Web sites say Egyptian authorities have arrested three suspects in Sinai.

Doctors in the south of Israel were asked to come to Eilat, and surgeons from across the country will be flown to the southern city to aid the local medical personal. Social workers are also arriving at Eilat and Sinai to assist.

Magen David Adom has put out a call for blood donations of the RH-negative type. Donations can be made at the MDA station at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv. The station will begin receiving donors at 2 a.m.

Israelis returning from Sinai are reporting crowded conditions in the Taba crossing into Israel. Israel Radio reported Egyptian soldiers began shooting in the air to stop the pushing and shoving.

Arkia airliner is scheduling extra flights from Eilat to Tel Aviv overnight Thursday and Friday.

The Eilat Municipality opened the city's Rabin School for Israelis returning from Sinai to spend the night. The Club Hotel also opened its gates to those returning from Sinai.

Official stressed that for a number of weeks specific warnings were received of plans by terrorists to launch an attack against Israelis in Sinai.


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Israelis consider Taba as their own back yard


Israelis consider Taba, just across the Egyptian border with Israel, part of their own backyard - partly because Israel controlled the tiny enclave for 22 years, and Israelis built the hotel that was wrecked by an explosion late Thursday.

Israel captured the Sinai Desert from Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War and returned it in 1982 under terms of a peace treaty - except for Taba, a tiny parcel of land on the Red Sea shore next to Eilat.

Israel claimed the international border placed Taba inside Israel, but international arbitrators ruled against the claim, and Israel returned Taba, along with the US$41 million hotel, to Egypt in March 1989.

Though a border separated Israeli Eilat from Egyptian Taba, thousands of Israelis regularly streamed across to visit Taba and place bets in the Hilton casino.

A month ago, Israeli officials issued a warning of possible terror attacks against Israeli tourists in Sinai and recommended that Israelis stay away, but Israel's Foreign Ministry said early Friday that between 12,000 and 15,000 Israelis were in the Sinai Desert as of Thursday.

Up to Thursday, there had been no serious attacks against Israeli tourists in Taba. However, in 1985, an Egyptian policeman went berserk and opened fire on Israelis in Ras Burka in the Sinai, killing seven.


Edited by Erikl
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'Exodus 2004'


Thousands of Israelis are leaving their resorts in the Sinai Peninsula and are making their way to the Taba Crossing to cross over into Israel following two deadly terror attacks Thursday night.

Liron Cohen, on her way out of Taba, said, "Its very sad, I've traveled here so many times. But this us my last time here. I'm leaving with very sad feelings."

In total darkness in some places, and with little or no help from Egyptian authorities, Israelis are gathering their countrymen and women from their reveling spots and are making efforts to find anyone missing.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said that Israel would help evacuate any of the 12,000 to 15,000 Israelis who wish to leave the Sinai.

"We told everyone to get out of there. We gathered everyone off the beach. We wouldn't leave anyone there. We packed as many people into a taxi as we could and we got out of there," Eyal, a guest at Ras a-Satan told Channel 1 TV on his way out of the Taba crossing.

"We thought maybe at first that the IAF was bombing somewhere, as an exercise. The Beduin there told us that maybe it was landmines being set off, but I didn't believe them for a second. I knew straight away it was a terror attack," Eyal said.

Udi Argon, from Tel Aviv, speaking to Channel 1 TV from Moon Island in 'little' Ras a-Satan (Between Ras a-Satan and Mehagene) said there were two explosions at the resort. Two Israelis were killed, and one woman suffered severe head wounds, he said. The woman is still at the scene.

Argon said there are 300 Israelis currently visiting Moon Island.

"We gathered all the Israelis on the beach. We tried to get out ourselves, but we're waiting for the sunrise. There are about 300 of us here. We were about 20 meters from the car when it exploded. Our bungalow actually shielded us.

"Somebody drove two cars with explosives right up to the bungalows. Everybody here is fine, and we hope to get to the border by sunrise. If somebody can help us and send us buses that would help a lot," Argon said.

He added that the car bombs were about 10 meters from the center of the dining area in Moon Island. The first car exploded at 10:25 p.m. and one minute after that another bomb went off.

"Unfortunately it was an extremely large attack, and they managed to bring the cars right up to the bungalows. Bodies were flung into the water. There is nobody to talk to here, no Egyptian authorities, no ambulances, a total 'balagan' (bedlam). Some of the Beduins here were killed and wounded. The Ministry of Defense called me on my satellite phone, and told me that they are sending two buses and an ambulance. But I told them that won't be enough. Most of those in Ras are families," Argon said.

Eytan, another visitor to Moon Island, said "I think that they need to send us more than two buses. We need help from Israel as soon as possible. We want to get out of here as soon as possible."

Channel 1 TV broadcast an interview with a Magen David Adom ambulance unit which was making its way to Nuweiba, and was not aware of the casualties at Moon Island.

There is hardly any cellular phone reception further south in the Sinai, and getting in touch with family and friends is possible mostly close to the Taba area.

Eran, an Israeli visitor to Ras a-Satan said that as soon as the blasts went off, the resort's Beduin staff all gathered and stood guard at each of the entrances to the beach bungalows to protect their Israeli guests. Eran said, however, that the Beduin were reluctant to drive the Israelis to the Taba crossing.

Amit, another visitor to Ras, said, "that's it, we will never go back to Sinai. This is the exodus from Egypt in 2004," he said.


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IDF sets up emergency war room


The IDF General Staff has convened for an emergency assessment in Tel Aviv as the Operations Directorate has set up a war room to deal with the terror attacks in the Sinai.

Military sources said that despite the attacks in Taba and Nuweiba, the level of alert along the Egyptian border was not heightened.

They said that the focus of efforts at the moment was ferrying special Home Front rescue workers down to the scene of the attacks on IAF aircraft.

The relations with the Egyptians is not at all smooth and special efforts were being made by liaison officers to allow uniformed rescue workers into Egyptian territory.

The Egyptians in the past have vehemently opposed such steps, but it appears they will be more forthcoming due to the severity of the present emergency.


Edited by Erikl
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Eilat residents urged to donate blood


Magen David Adom urged residents of Eilat to come donate blood, as over 80 people were evacuated from Sinai to the city's Josephthal Hospital following an explosion at the Hilton Hotel in Taba.

The wounded were rushed to the Taba crossing between Israel and Egypt where Magen David Adom ambulances were waiting to evacuate them to Josephthal Hospital.

Twelve other wounded people have been taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Doctors in the south of Israel were asked to come to Eilat, and surgeons from across the country will be flown to the southern city to aid the local medical personal. Social workers are also arriving at Eilat and Sinai to assist.


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What a great world we all live in!

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The numbers are increasing every hour:

31 deads, 118 injured, 39 Israelis are un-accountable for. crying.gif

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Latest update - officials are skeptic of Al-Qaeda's quick message in which the organization took reponsibility.

There is a consensus that the methods used are indeed very similiar to those of Al-Qaeda, but officials are yet to find any direct evidence for Al-Qaeda's involvment.

The death toll in Nueiba is now 22, most of them Israelis.

A special Israeli-Egyptian mission was sent in an helicopter half an hour ago to identify who is an Israeli and who isn't.

Israeli bodies would be sent to Israel for identification by their loved ones crying.gif

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