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Jihadists claim Sinai rocket fire on Israel's Eilat resort
Published Wednesday 17/04/2013 (updated) 18/04/2013 11:13
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JERUSALEM (AFP) -- At least two Grad rockets fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula exploded in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on Wednesday, causing no casualties, in an attack claimed by a Salafi jihadist group.

It was the first rocket attack on the southern resort city in eight months, with the Israeli army saying they were fired from the Egyptian Sinai, although there was no immediate confirmation from Cairo where a senior military official said troops were "investigating" the incident.

As news of the rocket fire emerged, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who is in London for the funeral of Britain's Margaret Thatcher -- held a telephone consultation with the security establishment on "how to react," his office said.

Several hours later, a Salafi group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had "managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets" without saying where they were fired from.

The attack took place as Palestinians were marking Prisoners' Day in solidarity with the thousands of inmates held by Israel, with the group saying the rockets were a "response to the continued suffering of the downtrodden prisoners in Israeli jails".

The rockets struck shortly after 9:00 am, both landing inside the city but without causing injuries, Israeli police said.

"We've found two explosion sites in the city, we've also closed off the airport as a precaution," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, later saying that Eilat's tiny international airport had been reopened.

One rocket hit a construction site in the Shahamon neighborhood, while the second struck an open area close to the Jordan border, just east of the main hotel strip, local residents said.

Map of the Israel-Egypt-Jordan border region locating rocket attacks on Eilat

At the start of April, fears of an imminent rocket attack from Sinai prompted the military to move a battery of Israel's vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system to the Eilat area, a defense official confirmed on Wednesday.

"There were warnings of possible firings, and they decided to shift the system to there," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But an Israeli security source said the system did not engage to intercept the rockets.

"Due to operational circumstances, the battery located in the area did not intercept the incoming rockets," the source said, without elaborating.

Israeli media reports also said two rockets had landed in the nearby Jordanian resort of Aqaba, in reports denied by Amman.

"All military and security services in Aqaba have confirmed that nothing happened in Aqaba. It was only on the other side," Amer Sartawi, spokesman for Jordan's Public Security Department, told AFP.

At least two Aqaba residents contacted by AFP said they were unaware of any rockets landing in the city.

Eilat lies on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow stretch of water bordered on one side by the Sinai and the other by Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Last April, a rocket fired from Sinai hit Eilat but caused no casualties, with police finding another unexploded rocket near the city days later.

In August, another two rockets rocked Eilat, again injuring no-one.

That attack was claimed by another Salafist group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which said it had fired two Grad rockets at the city.

Since the collapse of the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Israel's border with Sinai has seen multiple security incidents, with militants using the lawless peninsula to stage attacks on the Jewish state.

The most serious incident was in August 2011, when gunmen infiltrated southern Israel and staged a series of ambushes that killed eight Israelis.

Over the past few years, there has been intermittent rocket fire on Eilat from Sinai.

So far, no-one has been injured but in August 2010, one landed in Aqaba, killing a taxi driver.
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1 ) BEST WAY FOR PEACE / is to FIRE ROCKETS
17/04/2013 15:55
on innocent citizen! go ISLAM!!!

2 ) steven / usa
17/04/2013 16:25
jihadists=terrorist

3 ) Ajibola Hasan / Nigeria
17/04/2013 21:46
Steven/USA, Israel is only terrorist throughout the world. Palestinians are merely defend themselves from the satanic Zionist.

4 ) Moe Moe / Usa
17/04/2013 21:50
To Steven#2: Incasr u do not know pal ,Occupation is the worest form of terrorism in history of mankind.

5 ) JoeUSA / USA
18/04/2013 01:20
#1 , I am not a muslim but I have many friends who are . To suggest that it is Islam that compels people to shoot rockets is to say the least , not accurate. To make it simple for you so that you can grasp this concept. Christian Eric Rudolph , who is a devout christian and a staunch pro lifer Olympic park bomber , was driven by his strong faith to commit the horrible acts .Is it Christianity that forced him .Best way for peace is justice and not occupation and dispossesing and opressing others.

6 ) southparkbear / usa
18/04/2013 01:33
ok, we know they are controlled by hamas. close the border again

7 ) None of the theives in / Israel
18/04/2013 03:16
are innocent. They are all part of organized Zionist crime syndicate.

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/04/2013 07:01
To Best Way #1 "BEST WAY FOR PEACE / is to FIRE ROCKETS on innocent citizen! go ISLAM!!!" Still. Kind of pales beside Judaism these days, doesn't it? Especially if you look at it in proportion to the number of adherents.
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