Rockets fired across Egyptian border hit Israeli resort town Eilat

 

Militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula fired at least two rockets at Israel's southern resort town of Eilat early Wednesday, officials said, highlighting what Israel says is a dire security situation across its border.

Nobody was hurt in the attack, police said, although one rocket exploded near the courtyard of a house. A shadowy hard-line Muslim group, likely based in the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the remains of two Grad-style rockets were found, and bomb experts were looking for more. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was traveling to London for the funeral of Britain's late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said he spoke with his defense minister and discussed how to respond. 

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel but relations are cool. Sinai was until recently a popular destination for Israeli travelers. 

In Cairo, a presidential spokesman said Egypt was investigating the attack. 

"It is one of Egypt's basic principles not to endanger the safety and security of any country, either those sharing borders with it or others," said Omar Amer, spokesman for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. "Egypt is a state that calls for peace and preserves it." 

Israeli officials have grown increasingly jittery about the situation in Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Islamic militant groups, some believed to be affiliated with the al-Qaida terror network, have taken advantage of a power vacuum in the lawless Sinai and have carried out a string of rocket attacks and other operations along the border. 

The deadliest was in August 2011, when militants from Sinai rushed into Israel, ambushing Israeli buses and cars with gunfire and a bomb, killing eight Israelis. During the melee, Israeli forces killed six Egyptian policemen. Israel later apologized for their deaths. 

Israel believes militants from the Gaza Strip, which also borders Sinai, are also operating in the area. Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, has said security in southern Israelfrom threats in Sinai is a high priority. The regime change in Egypt, now governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, has not damaged cooperation between the countries' security forces, he added. 

"Coordination even improved in certain aspects," he said Tuesday. Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad repeated that on Wednesday, after the rocket attack. 

Israel has increased surveillance along the Egyptian border over the past two years, and is building a barrier along the 230-kilometer (150-mile) frontier to keep out militants and African migrants. 

Reflecting the concerns, the military moved a battery of its new "Iron Dome" rocket defense system into Eilat earlier this month. 

Although air-raid sirens went off during Wednesday's attack, the military said the system, which is meant to fire when rockets are headed toward populated areas, was not activated. It cited "operational circumstances" but did not elaborate. 

Danny Lahav of Eilat's Chamber of Commerce told Israel's Channel 2 TV that he heard the sound of a "faint explosion" in the morning, followed by two louder explosions. Residents in the popular tourist destination remained calm, he said, adding that he hopes the attack won't dissuade visitors. 

Israeli media said there were reports rockets had also hit the tourist city of Aqaba in neighboring Jordan, next to Eilat, but Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Majali told The Associated Press that "no rockets" fell in Jordan. 

A senior Egyptian military intelligence official in Sinai said the army was investigating the incident. He said investigators were looking into the possibility of strikes launched from southern Sinai, around the popular tourist area of Taba along the Red Sea and nearby mountainous areas. 

The group that claimed responsibility for firing the rockets said it was a response to the death of a Palestinian prisoner from cancer in an Israeli jail last month. It also claimed responsibility for rocket fire out of Gaza a few weeks ago. 

The "Mujahadin Shura Council — Environs of Jerusalem" said in a statement on an extremist Islamic website that they would continue to attack Israel. Its logo and language suggested it was ideologically linked to jihadi groups that have a hard-line interpretation of Islamic law, and who believe they can pursue their goal of Muslim domination through violence. 

Suggesting the group was based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the statement called on the territory's militant Islamic rulers to release preachers from the ultraconservative Salafi movement. Hamas security officials routinely arrest Salafi activists in Gaza. Hamas sees them as a threat to their rule, while the Salafis see Hamas as too moderate.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Extras
indybest
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up