Drone strike in southern Sinai said to kill one person
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Drone strike in southern Sinai said to kill one person

Raid comes hours after IS affiliate fires rocket into Negev; Israel on alert amid warnings of terror attacks from peninsula

Smoke rises after an airstrike in the Sinai city of Rafah as seen from Gaza on July 1, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib /Flash90)
Smoke rises after an airstrike in the Sinai city of Rafah as seen from Gaza on July 1, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib /Flash90)

A drone strike in Egypt’s southern Sinai region killed one person on Monday, according to reports in Arabic-language media.

The strike was on a home in the town of Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip, al-Jazeera reported. The network attributed the strike to Israel, but there was no confirmation of this.

The Egyptian military was reported to have carried out a number of air strikes in the terror-ridden peninsula on Monday.

The reported strike came hours after a rocket attack from Sinai was fired into southern Israel earlier on Monday, an attack claimed by the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai..

On its official Twitter account, the terror group said “the fighters of the Islamic State have bombed a Jewish settlement in southern Palestine with a Grad rocket.”

The remains of a rocket fired from Sinai that struck an Israeli greenhouse in the village of Yuval in the Eshkol region on April 10, 2017. (Israel Police)
The remains of a rocket fired from Sinai that struck an Israeli greenhouse in the village of Yuval in the Eshkol region on April 10, 2017. (Israel Police)

Just after 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning, the incoming missile alarm known as a “Code Red” sounded in the Negev’s Eshkol region, near Israel’s westernmost edge, at the border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

After a search of the area, police found the rocket in the community of Yuval, near the Egyptian border, in a greenhouse where tomatoes were being grown. The greenhouse was lightly damaged by the rocket.

A 50-year-old man who was nearby when it struck suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the attack, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

The attack came hours after Israel shut down the Taba Crossing into the Sinai Peninsula, citing information about an imminent terror attack in the area.

On Monday morning, in a highly unusual move, the Transportation Ministry shut down the Taba Crossing into the Sinai Peninsula. It is expected to reopen next Tuesday, April 18, with the end of the Passover holiday, but that decision will only be made following a security assessment, the ministry said in a statement.

Israelis currently in the Sinai Peninsula will still be able to return from Egypt and are, in fact, encouraged to do so immediately, the ministry said.

Thousands of Israelis had been expected to cross into the Sinai Peninsula for the Passover holiday.

The decision to forbid that move came a day after two lethal attacks on Egyptian churches by the terrorist group’s so-called Sinai Province.

The closure was ordered by Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, after consultation with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other security officials, according to the ministry’s statement.

This was one of the few times the Taba Crossing was shut down since its opening in 1982, following the Israeli-Egyptian peace deal. The crossing was shut down in 2014, following a terror attack on the Egyptian side of the border. It was also closed in 2011 when Israel also assessed there was a high risk of terror attacks.

The Israeli side of the Taba border crossing with Egypt (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
The Israeli side of the Taba border crossing with Egypt (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

On Sunday, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau released a statement encouraging all Israelis to forgo travel to the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the Islamic State has been waging a bloody war with Egyptian security forces and carrying out attacks against civilians.

Two church bombings, one in the city of Tanta and the other in Alexandria, killed at least 43 people earlier on Sunday, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.

“The fatal terrorist attacks which took place today reflect once again the terror capability of the Islamic State,” the anti-terror bureau said in a statement on Sunday. “In light of the gravity of the threat, the anti-terror bureau advises Israelis currently in the Sinai to leave immediately and return to Israel.”

In February, the Islamic State-affiliate, known as the Sinai Province, launched four Grad rockets at the southern city of Eilat. Three were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense battery, while the fourth struck an open field outside the city.

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