The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a Grad rocket bound for the southern Israeli city of Eilat overnight Monday. It was Iron Dome’s first successful interception since the battery’s recent deployment in the area.
Warning sirens blared and residents reported hearing two explosions shortly after midnight in the Israeli Red Sea resort town. Three people were treated for shock by Magen David Adom paramedics. The explosions caused no damage.
Palestinian sources reported early morning Tuesday that a Muslim terrorist group operating in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip took responsibility for the attack. Majlis Shura Al-Majahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt Al-Maqdis is the same al-Qaeda-linked group that was targeted on Friday by what was reported to be an Israeli drone.
Initially, Israeli media outlets reported that three rockets were fired at Eilat. After a search, the IDF found no traces of debris from any additional rockets in the area.
Friday’s alleged drone strike, which killed four and destroyed a rocket launcher, came on the heels of a warning from Egyptian security officials, who reportedly conveyed to Israel that jihadists in the Sinai were planning imminent attacks against Israeli targets.
A high-level Egyptian military official said Salafi groups had come into possession of missiles with a range of 70 kilometers and intended to target the airport and other Israeli targets, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Friday.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Aknaf Bayt Al-Maqdis took responsibility for the attack on Eilat, saying it was in response to the “Israeli drone strike” on Friday.
The group, whose name translates to Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, said that Eilat and other Israeli cities will no longer enjoy safety, tourism or economic prosperity, and that “the Jews will pay the price for the blood of the jihadists killed.”
Egyptian security sources in the Sinai said the Grad rocket came from a desert area near the Israeli border and may have been launched remotely, reported Israel Radio. Local Bedouin are helping Egyptian authorities to locate the exact launch site.
Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi said life in the city had returned to normal and that there were no reports of tourist departures.
“Like other Israeli cities, we have become accustomed to the reality of rockets. We expect the IDF to continue protecting our citizens and find those responsible for the attack,” said Halevi.
Meanwhile, clashes between terrorists and Egyptian security forces continued within the Sinai. Gunmen shot up several military outposts in El-Arish overnight, opening fire with rockets and small arms. There were no injuries reported.