Tiran Island

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Tiran Island
Disputed island
Other names: Yotvat (Hebrew)
Strait tiran 83.jpg
Map of Tiran and Sanafir Islands
Location Red Sea
Coordinates 27°57′N 34°33′E / 27.950°N 34.550°E / 27.950; 34.550Coordinates: 27°57′N 34°33′E / 27.950°N 34.550°E / 27.950; 34.550
Total islands 1
Area 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi)
Administered by
Claimed by
Saudi Arabia
Population Uninhabited
The Strait of Tiran and Tiran Island
USBATT and SUPBATT soldiers prepare to leave Tiran Island. Mainland Saudi Arabia is visible in the background.

Tiran (Arabic: جزيرة تيرانJazīrat Tīrān,[1] aka Jezîret Tīrān[2] and Yotvat Island,[3][4] is an Egyptian-administered island that is also claimed by Saudi Arabia.[5] It is located at the entrance of the Straits of Tiran, which separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba. It has an area of about 80 km2 (30 sq mi). It is part of the Ras Muhammad National Park. The definite sovereignty over Tiran Island is left unclear by both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, due to geostrategic reasons. The Straits of Tiran is Israel's only access from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea, and Egypt's blockade of the Straits of Tiran on 22 May 1967 was the casus belli for Israel in the Six Day War.[6]

Tiran Island is of strategic significance in the area, as it forms the narrowest section of the Straits of Tiran, which is an important sea passage to the major ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel. Israel briefly took over Tiran Island during the Suez Crisis and again from 1967 to 1982 following the Six Day War. The island is currently inhabited only by military personnel from Egypt and the Multinational Force and Observers [MFO].

Chisholm Point is a cape of Tiran Island.

Some sources report that many beaches on the island are mined.[7]


Tiran may be the island that Procopius called Iotabe (in Greek Ἰωτάβη), which was an important toll station for shipping in the area, but other islands in the Gulf of Aqaba have been proposed as alternative identifications. In 473 a Saracen named Amorkesos captured the island and appropriated the revenues, but the Byzantine Empire retook it 25 years later, granting its inhabitants autonomy, subject to payment of taxes on goods exported to India. Around 534, the Byzantines had to retake it again from a group whom Choricius of Gaza called an unholy race, and whom some scholars suppose to have been the Jewish inhabitants who had refused to pay the taxes.[8][9][10]

The earliest and latest dates mentioned in relation to Iotabe are given in relation to the participation of bishops of the island in the church councils: Macarius in the Council of Chalcedon in 451 (in whose acts the diocese is listed as belonging to the Roman province of Palaestina Tertia), and Anastasius in a synod held at Jerusalem in 536.[8][11]

There is no mention of Iotape in accounts of the Islamic conquests, suggesting that by then the island was uninhabited.[8]

Since it is no longer a residential bishopric, Iotape, in its Latin form called Iotapa in Palaestina, is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[12]

The reference by Procopius to an autonomous Jewish community on the island of Iotabe until the 6th century figured in Israeli rhetoric during the Suez crisis and during and immediately after the Six Day War.[13]

Modern History[edit]

In 1967, Tiran Island was captured by Israeli troops during the Six Day War and remained under Israeli control until 1982. In January 1968, the US government stood behind a failed attempt to induce Israeli withdrawal from that island as an opening move to a larger peace process.[14]


The proposed Saudi-Egypt Causeway would pass through Tiran Island.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jazīrat Tīrān: Egypt". Geographical Names. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  2. ^ "Jezîret Tīrān: Saudi Arabia". Geographical Names. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  3. ^ "Yotvat Island: Egypt". Geographical Names. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  4. ^ Shindler, Colin (2013). A History of Modern Israel (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-10702862-3. Retrieved 7 August 2014. )
  5. ^ CIA - The World Factbook
  6. ^ Robert Priewasser, Tiran Island and Straits of Tiran. Unexplained Sovereignty over an Island in the Context of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Saarbrücken: Akademikerverlag, 2013)
  7. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/tiran-island.htm Observation Post 3-11, Tiran Island
  8. ^ a b c Walter David Ward, From Provincia Arabia to Palaestina Tertia (ProQuest 2008 ISBN 978-1-10905356-2), pp. 162–168
  9. ^ Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Volume 1 (Dumbarton Oaks 1995 ISBN 978-0-88402214-5), p. 184
  10. ^ Procopius, History of the Wars I.xix.4
  11. ^ Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 454
  12. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 911
  13. ^ Howard Grief. The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law. pp. 233–234. 
  14. ^ Dean Rusk (US Secretary of State) to the US Embassy in Israel, Jan. 17, 1968

External links[edit]