Israel shoots down rocket targeting resort city Eilat

JERUSALEM Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:40am EDT

An Israeli soldier walks away from an Iron Dome rocket interceptor battery deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

An Israeli soldier walks away from an Iron Dome rocket interceptor battery deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa May 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel shot down a rocket aimed at its southern resort city of Eilat early on Tuesday, blowing it up in mid air near the border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, a military official said.

Islamist militants operating in the lawless desert peninsula said they fired the rocket at the city, which was packed with tourists, in retaliation for the killing of four guerrillas in Sinai on Friday.

Air raid sirens rang out and blasts reverberated over the hills surrounding the resort on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, witnesses and Israeli news media said. No casualties or damage were reported.

A retired Israeli security official said it was the first time Israel's Iron Dome interceptor system had struck a missile fired at Eilat.

"It's not the first time that a rocket has been fired at Eilat, but it is the first time the Iron Dome has intercepted one," Dani Arditi, former national security adviser told Army Radio.

Israel briefly shut its airport in the city on Thursday citing threats from militants in Sinai involved in a standing confrontation with the Egyptian military.

Israel has also boosted its rocket defenses near its southern border with Egypt.

VIOLENCE SPIKES

Violence in Sinai picked up after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, an ally of Israel, was toppled in 2011. It has increased again since last month's military overthrow of Mubarak's successor, Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.

Magles Shoura al-Mujahideen, a hardline Islamist faction which also has a small presence in the Gaza Strip, said it fired the missile at Eilat.

"In a swift response to the latest crime of the Jews that killed 4 Mujahideen in the land of Sinai through a strike by a pilotless plane, the lions of Maglis Shoura al-Mujahideen ... were able to strike the occupied city of Om al-Rashash "Eilat" with a rocket," it said in a statement published online.

"We assure that neither Eilat nor any other Israeli cities will be blessed with security, tourism or economy," it added.

Eilat's mayor said there had been no panic.

"I think the military prepared in the best possible way with an enhanced defensive shield to protect Eilat and tourists including the (Iron Dome) battery... I and my citizens feel secure," Meir Yitzhak-Halevy told Army Radio.

Al Qaeda accused Israel of carrying out Friday's missile strike in Sinai but Israel dismissed the accusation. Egypt's armed forces said one of its helicopters fired the missile at al Qaeda fighters.

The Sinai was largely demilitarized as part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. But Israel has allowed Egypt to send troops to the area to combat the militants and arms smuggling by Palestinians into Gaza.

The peninsula has long been a security headache for Egypt and its neighbors. Large and mostly uninhabited, it also borders the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal linking Asia to Europe.

It is home to nomad clans disaffected with rule from Cairo.

(Additional reporting by Shaimaa Fayed in Cairo and; Mahmoud Habboush in Dubai; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Ori Lewis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (17)
OneOfTheSheep wrote:
This kind of skeet shooting” is VERY expensive, if interesting.

Aug 12, 2013 8:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“Israel says it intercepts rocket launch near Egypt’s Sinai”

This incident just proves once again, as though any corroboration were necessary, the extreme danger Israel’s key Cities would be exposed to if they capitulated to the Palestinian demands to agree to pull back to the pre-1967 Borders.

From the 1967 Borders, rockets and missiles launched by militants, in a newly formed Palestinian State, could reach the heart of Jerusalem in a matter of seconds and Tel Aviv in under half a minute. The casualties would be in the thousands.

The militants who fired this latest volley into Eilat have done Israel the unintended service of providing a potent reminder of why realistic and defensible borders in the Middle East are so important.

There is probably a small possibility that there can one day be some sort of Peace deal made but not as long as the Palestinian negotiators continue to make demands that are “non-starters” and dead in the water as soon as the words leave their mouths.

It is difficult to fathom why the Palestinian negotiators refuse to understand that time is not on their side. It is as clear to see as the noses on their collective faces.

Perhaps if they would start staring straight ahead and in front of them, instead of in every conceivable direction other than straight ahead, some progress could be made in the long suffering Middle East.

And then of course there are all the delusional fanatics like the members of Hamas in Gaza, who are absolutely convinced that it is only a matter of time before they fulfill their oft stated Sworn goal of destroying the State of Israel and pushing the Jews into the sea.

And maybe pigs will one day sprout colorful wings and learn how to fly, but I would not recommend anyone holding his breath waiting for that to happen any time soon.

Aug 12, 2013 9:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Zimmer555 wrote:
israel just beating on a dead horse. Israel pushing hard and hard
Surrounded by deadly enemies in four sides only sea way as scape router.
I wish israel would realize to face the facts no future to israel in Arab’s lands. Faster to move out is better and safer. Hezbollah and Iran may stop israeli to scape and to block their scape route in the sea.

Aug 12, 2013 12:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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