Israel has dismissed Egyptian claims that a series of shark attacks in the Red Sea could have been the result of a plot carried out by its foreign intelligence agency, Mossad.
The reports – apparently quoting the South Sinai governor – have been picked up by the Israeli media.
An elderly woman was killed by a shark in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. Several other swimmers have been mauled in the past week. Conspiracy theories are always popular in the Middle East, with unlikely suggestions often made that troubles in Arab countries could be caused by Mossad agents.
Rumours had circulated in Egypt that there could be an Israeli connection to this unusual spate of Red Sea shark attacks. However, it was comments attributed to the South Sinai governor, Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, carried on an official Egyptian news site that drew attention.
“What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm,” he is reported to have said. The Jerusalem Post picked up on the story – quoting Israeli officials who rejected the notion as “ludicrous”.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Igal Palmor then told the BBC: “The man must have seen Jaws one time too many, and confuses fact and fiction.”
It has also been pointed out that visitors to Israel as well as Egypt might be alarmed by the shark attacks. Israel has its own holiday resorts on the Red Sea coast, and Sharm el-Sheikh is popular with its citizens.