The Israelites were prevented from travelling north by the presence of an Egyptian military fortress. To the North of the mouth of the Wadi Watir Ron Wyatt found an ancient fortress, and wondered if this could this have been the place referred to in the Bible as Migdol in Exodus 14:2, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea.”
To the South the mountains extend all the way down to the sea, thus preventing any further passage of the Children of Israel away from Pharaoh’s army. The Children of Israel were being pursued by the Egyptian army. God had brought them to a point where only He could deliver them.