UK lifts flight ban to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh

Tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9, 2015 for evacuation following an earlier Daesh bombing that brought down a Russian passenger plane. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UK lifts flight ban to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh

  • Sharm El-Sheikh had been a major package-holiday destination for British tourists before the November 2015 attack
  • Since the attack, Egyptian authorities have spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at airports across the country

LONDON: UK airlines can resume flights to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, suspended after a Daesh bombing brought down a Russian passenger plane over Sinai four years ago, killing all 224 people on board, the British government said Tuesday.
The Department for Transport said “improvements in security procedures at the airport, and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security, mean commercial airlines can now be allowed to operate routes to and from the airport.”
“We look forward to services to Sharm El-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, stressing that the “safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority.”
Sharm El-Sheikh, a top resort on the Sinai Peninsula, had been a major package-holiday destination for British tourists before the November 2015 attack, which and was claimed by the Daesh group.
Since the attack, Egyptian authorities have spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at airports across the country.
Travel company Tui welcomed Britain’s decision and said it planned to re-introduce trips to Sharm El-Sheikh, “taking into account customer demand.”
Egypt also welcomed the decision. The country’s civil aviation ministry said in a statement that it was a “step forward in a new stage of more flights for UK holidaymakers to all Egyptian airports.”
Tourism Minister Rania El-Mashat hailed the decision as a “message to the world that Egypt is safe” and that it would have a “positive impact” on British tourists heading to Egypt.
Egypt’s vital tourism industry has been showing signs of recovery lately, after years in the doldrums because of the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak. The downing of the Russian passenger jet was the final blow.
Airline easyJet said in a statement: “We are aware of the lifting of the restriction on UK airlines flying into Sharm El-Sheikh Airport and will look at any opportunities for easyJet and easyJet Holidays as a result.”


Amid tension in southern Gaza, a newlywed couple’s future is thrown to the wind

Updated 3 min 31 sec ago

Amid tension in southern Gaza, a newlywed couple’s future is thrown to the wind

AL-QARARA, Gaza Strip: Mohammed Abu Amra and his wife, Marwa, had not even finished their honeymoon when they found themselves without a house, after Israeli warplanes turned the family building in Al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip to rubble.

Mohammed, 34, had worked and saved to pay for his wedding and apartment for three years. In moments, it was gone.

Since Wednesday, Mohammed, Marwa, and his large family of 20 have been crammed into a small shack, after Israel escalated activities in Gaza after the assassination of a senior military leader of the group Islamic Jihad.

“We became displaced, and the work of years now lies in the ruins of the house, with all our furniture, possessions, even our identity papers,” Mohammed told Arab News.

The couple were dreaming of a calm and stable life. Mohammed is in shock, and does not know what to expect in the coming days, while his bride Marwa suffered “severe psychological trauma” after the attack.  “I dreamed that my happiness would last with my wife, that the honeymoon would be completed and that our days would become more beautiful, but the work of years was destroyed,” he said.

With sadness and pain, Mohammed remembers the moment of the bombing of his house, built by his father three decades ago to house his children and grandchildren.

“That night, my father’s cell phone rang from someone who identified himself as an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officer, who asked my father to leave the house within seven minutes,” he added.

Hamouda Abu Amra, Mohammed’s father, took up the tale of the fateful night.

“At that point, I only had minutes to save my family. I screamed at them to evacuate, and rushed to the neighbors.

“I received a second call from the officer, who told me that they would bomb the house within two minutes. Then I remembered that Mohammed and his bride were still in their apartment. I rushed and brought them out with nothing but the clothes they had on.”

Israel has been bombing the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war, informing residents of the need to evacuate minutes before destroying targets.

“We gathered, my family and my neighbors, 200 meters from the house. A drone fired a warning missile, then a warplane fired two missiles,” Hamouda said.

The IDF launched an operation in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday last week, with the assassination of the commander of the northern Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of Islamic Jihad, Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife.

Thirty-four Palestinians, including eight children and three women, have since been killed and 109 others injured. The Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza announced that Israeli airstrikes destroyed had 30 housing units completely and 500 others partially were damaged.

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