Amid the bloody terror upsurge in the Sinai Peninsula, where dozens of Egyptian soldiers have been murdered by Islamic State, the IDF spokesman has announced that highway 12 in the southern Negev will be closed for traffic starting Friday morning due to "security considerations," as ordered by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and approved by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.
The 71-kilometer road surrounds the mountains of Eilat from north and west, and connects the southernmost Israeli city to highway 10, which leads to the Gaza Strip. "The decision to temporarily close the highway was made in accordance with recent security assessments," said the IDF spokesman, "and in order to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens."
Earlier on Thursday, following Israel's claim that Hamas has been joining forces with an IS-affiliated organization in Sinai, a source in Gaza who is linked with Hamas' top leadership has denied these accusations, calling IS "a joint enemy of Hamas and Egypt."
Another source has told Channel 2 News that forces of Hamas' military wing have been placed along the border between Gaza and Sinai, in order to prevent infiltrations into Egypt.
The Eyptian air force strikes back Photo credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
Israeli Coordinator of the Government Activity in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, had said in an interview to the Arabic-language Al Jazeera news station that the IDF has clear proof that Hamas was assisting the IS-affiliate in several ways, including transferring equipment and smuggling injured terrorists from Sinai into the Gaza Strip.
Reports in Egyptian media claimed that Egypt has responded forcefully to the massacre of its soldiers, and that several senior-level IS officials have been eliminated in an Egyptian army air strike.