Islamists attack police checkpoint next to St. Catherine Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula

An Egyptian policeman was killed and four others were wounded, when Islamist militants opened fire on a police checkpoint near the famed Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the lawless Sinai Peninsula. According to Egyptian officials, the Islamists opened fire from an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint just outside the monastery, located in a mountainous area in the southern part of Sinai. Following the deadly incident, the Sinai branch of the Islamic State, which are called ‘Wilayat Sinai’, claimed responsibility for attack. 

The attack on the 6th century monastery, which is a popular site for tourists, comes just over a week after Islamist suicide bombers attacked two churches on Palm Sunday in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria, murdering 45 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for those attacks too, after promising to bolster its efforts to target the Christian minority of Egypt. 

Israel decided to keep its border crossing with Egypt closed to Israelis who wish to travel to the Sinai Peninsula. The decision was made by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau following a situation assessment. That said, in the coming days, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau announced it would re-examine its decision. Prior to the Passover holiday, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz instructed, in an unprecedented move, to close the country’s border crossing to Israelis traveling to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, following the high number of warnings on the intention of Islamic State terrorists to target Israeli tourists.