Israel reopens Taba border crossing with Egypt

The crossing was completely sealed off in March last year to control the spread of COVID-19.

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Israel has resurrected the Taba boundary post with Egypt, which was shut during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing a limited number of people to cross to the Sinai Peninsula for Passover vacations.

Tuesday’s attempt was the tardiest phase towards normalization for Israel, which has vaccinated more than half of its people against COVID-19: the world’s speediest vaccination process per capita.

From Tuesday through April 12, 300 Israelis will be permitted through to Taba on the Red Sea each day. To cross, people must be immunized or have recovered from COVID-19. A negative lab test is also obligatory for travel between both directions.

The verdict emanated after the Israeli government accepted a bid by the tourism minister last week to form a governmental committee that framed a plan to let a limited number of Israelis travel to and from Sinai, via the Taba border crossing.

Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is a prevalent vacation spot for Israelis, mainly through Passover, which symbolizes the evacuation of Jews from Egypt. The holy holiday began over the weekend.

Although Israel’s vaccination rollout has been fruitful – with the health ministry speaking of serious cases dropping from 800 at the end of last month to 467, vaccinations are going much dimmer in Palestinian areas.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has remained on aids and restricted supplies from Israel. The 5.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip have received only about 120,000 vaccines so far. Israel has come under international criticism for not doing more to enable Palestinian vaccinations.

Israel says Palestinians are responsible for such health measures in their semi-autonomous areas but critics, rights groups and some Democratic Party legislators in the US have pointed out that as an occupying power, Israel bears the responsibility for inoculating the population it exerts control over.

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