JERUSALEM, April 25— In a somber mood, Israel withdrew the last of its soldiers from the Sinai peninsula today, leaving the desert wilderness to Egypt as provided by the first treaty of peace between Israel and an Arab country.
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon pledged that it would be Israel’s final territorial concession for peace, and he promised a new drive to expand Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The turnover of the 7,500 square miles of territory, representing the last third of the peninsula under Israeli control, was accomplished without fanfare, as a reflection of Israel’s sadness and disquiet.
There were no joint Israeli-Egyptian ceremonies. Shortly after dawn, a single Israeli flag, bearing a blue Star of David against a white field, was lowered at Sharm el Sheik, the southern outpost that commands the strategic approach to the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba.
National Anthem Is Sung
The troops wept and sang ”Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem, ”The Hope.” Then they boarded trucks and buses for the journey north. Two formations of Kfir jet fighters made a final sweep low over the rugged coastline, and were gone.
Several hours later, the Egyptians raised their flag at Sharm el Sheik
Ok that was the official story but here is what really happened !!!!!!
It was at this time I decided i wanted to snorkel in Sharm so i convinced two friends from Jerusalem to come to Sinai with me as our troops were leaving .They thought i was crazy but went anyways.
We rented a car and headed across passing battalions of trucks streaming back to Israel .There were army roadblocks but we smooth talked our way in. We stashed our Israeli identity cards and showed our French and Canadian ID …
We got to Sharm on the Red Sea and continued on another 12 miles to Ras Mohammed at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east. We pulled up on a large promontory type shelf looking over the vastness of the sea .On one side was Saudi Arabia and the other Egypt and there we stayed swimming with our snorkel gear and camping. Loud explosions were heard by the retreating Israeli army. The snorkeling was some of the best in the world according to Jacques Cousteau…Days drifted by as we lived on the edge of the world cooking over a fire seeing no one and entranced by the incredible fish life under the sea.
One day i woke up with a start and i peered over the horizon and there i saw the fucking Egyptian army with flags flying and tanks and armored personnel carriers and jeeps . it was the whole Egyptian army heading right towards us !!!! I yelled at my friends who were busy making love in a sleeping bag to get the hell out of here and we scrambled and threw everything in the car. We jumped half naked half dressed in the car and i looked back and i could just see the white of their eyes and we put the pedal to the metal and gunned the car driving a 100 miles an hour heading North to Israel with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. I sure did not want to be jailed and shot as a spy ,not yet anyways in my career.
That night over a beer in Jerusalem we mused over our adventure.
Years later i was watching a Jacques Cousteau special on tv and he was talking about the vicious swarm of sharks off of Sharm el Sheik in the Sinai.
I turned white…..
A few years later i returned to Egypt being one of the first Israeli tours into Cairo after we signed the peace agreement. That was another adventure.