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Israel briefly closes Eilat airport, citing security threats

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military on Thursday night ordered the nation’s southern airport in Eilat closed until further notice, citing unspecified security threats.

[Updated 1:28 p.m. PDT, Aug. 8: The airport was reopened about two hours later.]

The airport is predominantly used by tourists traveling to the Red Sea resort city, and the shutdown comes during the peak vacation season.

Due to the airport's proximity to the restive Sinai Peninsula, the military has from time to time closed the facility for security reasons.

Israel’s military has long been concerned about the possibility that Sinai militants would attempt to shoot down Israeli airplanes using shoulder-fired missiles and recently considered equipping planes with anti-missile defenses.

The last shutdown, lasting a few hours, was in April after rocket attacks against Eilat.

The latest closure may be related to an ongoing crackdown by the Egyptian military against militants operating in the Sinai, Israeli media reported.

Egypt last month received a green light from Israel to move troops into the region, which has been partly demilitarized since the signing of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace accord.

The airport shutdown comes as several U.S. embassies in the Middle East remain closed due to concerns about an impending terrorist strike against Western targets. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv reopened Monday after the threat level was lowered.

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