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Israelis Returning to Ras Burka

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A year after seven Israelis, including four children, were gunned down by a beserk Egyptian soldier on the beach at Ras Burka in eastern Sinai, Israelis are beginning to flock back to the peninsula to enjoy its pristine white beaches, coral reefs and clear water.

About 2,000 Israeli tourists crossed the border into Sinai since the week-long Succot festival began on October 17. This is only half the number of tourists at the same time last year. But the Israelis report a positive change of attitude on the part of the Egyptian authorities.

The tragedy at Ras Burka put severe strains on Israeli-Egyptian relations. Although the killer was arrested — he committed suicide in jail–and the inquiry conducted by Cairo satisfied the Israeli authorities, bitterness persisted because of delays in getting medical help for the shooting victims. Several bled to death before they were allowed to be taken back across the border to hospitals in Israel.

Tourists returning from Sinai now say things have changed. In one case, an Israeli woman tourist fell ill. The Egyptians waived border formalities so that she could be rushed to a hospital Egyptian tour guides make it a point of showing Israelis the scene of the massacre and express their deep regret for it.

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