While Israel’s border with Egypt has remained closed since mid March as a result of the raging pandemic, a group of Israelis are fighting for it to open, claiming the Jewish state’s decision to seal the crossing was politically motivated and had nothing to do with health concerns.
Israel has been registering high numbers of coronavirus cases for three days in a row with Thursday seeing more than 3,000 new patients, the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic in late February.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, Israel’s coronavirus cabinet, which was established with the aim of containing the disease, met on Thursday to mull over measures that could stop the pandemic from spreading.
These include shutting down businesses, schools and public institutions in so-called red zones, towns where the amount of patients has been on the rise; and a full lockdown of 30 cities that have been struggling to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
Another measure is the decision to keep Israel’s borders largely closed, and although the country’s airport started operating in mid August, allowing a limited amount of flights to destinations that were still willing to take in Israelis despite the growing number of cases, outbound tourism has significantly dropped.
One of the destinations that suffered a severe blow was Egypt’s Sinai peninsula that before the outbreak of the pandemic saw nearly half a million Israeli tourists in 2019.
Love for Sinai
For Guy Shilo, an Israeli tour guide, lawyer and avid Sinai lover, the decision to close down the border with Egypt was “upsetting and frustrating”.
Shilo’s love affair with Sinai started long ago. Throughout the years he has organized dozens of diving lessons and set up multiple tours to the area, where people could disconnect from the world’s hassles.
Even during the most turbulent times in Egypt’s recent history, the tour guide continued to visit the area, despite the 2011 revolution, the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood that was hostile to Israel and the raging terror caused by Daesh* that kept many tourists, including those from Israel, at bay.