Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system yesterday intercepted a rocket fired from the Egypt-controlled Sinai Peninsula and aimed at the southern resort city of Eilat.
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.
A retired Israeli security official said it was the first time Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor system had struck a missile fired at Eilat.
The incident comes as analysts are expressing pointed concerns that attacks from the increasingly anarchic Sinai may eventually force Israel to take direct action on Egyptian soil against jihadists firing into the Jewish state. The Egyptian army is currently engaged in a wide-ranging campaign to uproot terrorist infrastructure in the territory, and Egyptian military officials claim that as part of the campaign they recently attacked a jihadist missile team.
The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, a Salafist group based out of the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for the raid on the missile team. The group took responsibility for firing the rocket on 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.
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