Egypt regained control of Ras Sudar, a sun-scorched oil town on the Gulf of the Suez on Sunday (16 November).
Egypt regained control of Ras Sudar, a sun-scorched oil town on the Gulf of the Suez on Sunday (16 November). It had been held by Israel since the 1967 Middle East War.
The return of Ras Sudar to Egyptian administration was a major step in the interim agreement negotiated between Israel and Egypt by the United States. And it meant a return home for some Egyptian civilians to the Sinai territory for the first time since it was occupied by Israel eight years ago.
In a fifteen minute ceremony, the Egyptian flag was hoisted over a building which is to serve as the administrative headquarters. Addressing a crowd of about 50 cheering tribesmen ferried across the Suez canal earlier in the day, the Governor of Sinai, Mohammed Abdel Moneim El Karamani said "We return to a dear part of our homeland which we shall never leave again".
Before the ceremony, trucks piled high with bedsteads and mattresses rolled into Ras Sudar for the return of more former residents later this month.
The installations were handed over to American technicians acting on behalf of Egypt last month. The oilfields have been producing four thousand barrels a day, and are the least important of those to be returned to Egypt under the interim agreement.
Bigger oil wells and installations at Abu Rudeis, south of Ras Sudar, are to be vacated by Israel at the end of the month, making Egypt once more a net exporter of oil rather than an importer.
The ceremony also included the return of about 30 kilometres (about 18 miles) of the Suez Gulf shoreline.