Saboteurs Blow up Egypt Gas Pipeline to Israel
Unknown attackers blew up an Egyptian terminal supplying gas to Israel near the Gaza Strip on Saturday, an official said, amid raging protests against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
The attackers blew up the terminal and the pipeline in the town of Lihfen in the Sheikh Zuwayed area of Sinai, 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Gaza Strip, the official said.
The army has taken precautionary measures to stop the fire from spreading, the official said.
Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel's natural gas, and in December, four Israeli firms signed 20-year contracts worth up to 10 billion dollars (7.4 billion euros) to import Egyptian gas.
The attack came after Israel expressed concern that its natural gas supplies from Egypt could be threatened by the anti-regime uprising.
"We again realize that the Middle East is not a stable region. We must act to ensure our energy security without relying on others," a spokesman for National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said on Tuesday.
Israel is concerned that a new regime in Cairo might not respect the peace treaty the two governments signed three decades ago -- and with it, the crucial energy supplies.
A broad swathe of Egypt's opposition, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, as well as public opinion has called for Cairo to stop supplying Israel with gas.
Landau on Monday summoned the heads of Israeli companies that are developing the offshore Tamar gas field -- due to start production in 2013 -- to urge them to push ahead with its timely development, his office said.
Landau told them Tamar's importance was even greater "in these times of unrest in our region." The Tamar field, off the port city of Haifa in northern Israel, holds reserves estimated at eight billion cubic meters (280 billion cubic feet).
The Globes financial newspaper reported that Landau's ministry had conducted exercises dealing with emergency scenarios in which gas supplies were cut off. It gave no further details.