Israel Moves to Protect Eilat-Bound Planes from Sinai Jihadis

(Reuters) Dan Williams - Every half hour, an airliner full of carefree vacationers lands in the Israeli resort city of Eilat on the Red Sea, while the surrounding area sizzles with unseen military activity. High-tech electronics, hundreds of human eyes on the ground, defensive weaponry and tighter coordination with Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula are all part of "Operation Hourglass" - the Israeli response to an influx of weaponry and Islamist guerrillas in Sinai. Earlier this year Israel completed a 250-km. barrier with Egypt, stretching from Eilat to Gaza on the Mediterranean. Other defensive measures include an innovative, Israeli-designed missile deflector aboard planes. Since 2011 Israel has frequently rerouted planes so that they land in Eilat from the north, rather than the standard southern approach skirting the Egyptian frontier. Hundreds of Israeli army lookouts, some in camouflaged ambush positions, strain to spot any unusual presence just over the border in Egypt whenever aircraft approach Eilat. Israeli commanders voice satisfaction with the responsiveness of Egyptian counterparts who, they say, quickly deploy to intercept anyone suspicious.

2013-07-23 00:00:00

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