Terrorists fired a rocket at Eilat shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, triggering an air raid siren and activating the Iron Dome anti-rocket battery, which is stationed at the Red Sea city.
The Iron Dome system intercepted at least one rocket, according to initial IDF assessments.
It is unknown at this stage whether additional rockets fell in open areas outside of the city.
Residents reported hearing the siren and a number of blasts.
The rocket attack comes days after an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization in the Sinai Peninsula said an Israel drone fired a missile and killed four of its members who were plotting to fire a rocket at Israel.
“Our heroes became martyrs during their jihadi duties against the Jews in a rocket attack on occupied lands,” the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis organization said on a jihadist website.
Five security sources told Reuters that Israel carried out the attack, but the Egyptian armed forces officially denied that was the case.
Israeli security officials remained quiet over the incident.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis criticized the Egyptian military for what it called its repeated cooperation with Israel.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a statement on Saturday stressing that Jerusalem “respects Egypt’s full sovereignty.” Israel is aware of Egypt’s stepped-up activities to combat terrorism in Sinai, and the “Egyptian army is fighting first and foremost to protect Egyptian civilians, as well as Egyptian sovereignty,” he said. “We will not allow rumors and speculation, as they developed over the past 24 hours, to harm the peace agreement.”
On Thursday evening, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz ordered Eilat Airport closed to flights for two hours.
On Friday, Ma’an quoted an Egyptian security source as saying the IDF’s decision to close the airport was a precautionary measure based on Egyptian intelligence that terrorists in Sinai were plotting a rocket strike.
The IDF instructed the Israel Airports Authority to close the airport in the southern city due to a “security assessment,” but it did not release any further details.
According to the Egyptian official cited by Ma’an, Salafi Islamists in Sinai planned to target Israel with shoulder-launched missiles with a range of 70 km., which would put them well in range of the airspace over Eilat Airport.
Reuters contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Eilat-hit-by-rocket-from-Sinai-as-sirens-blasts-heard-around-city-322859