An Islamic terror organization operating out of both Sinai and the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility Tuesday for firing two Grad rockets at Eilat on Monday evening. The rockets apparently struck open areas near the southern city and caused no casualties or damage.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has close ties to Egypt’s Salafi movement, claimed that it was behind the rocket attacks in a widely reported social media post. The group is believed to be behind many of the attacks in recent months against Egyptian army and police forces in the Sinai.
“Our war with the enemy in Egypt will not distract us from the war with the nation’s first enemy, Israel. With Allah’s help, from us the Jews will see only injury,” the group said, according to a translation provided by Ynet News.
The two Grad rockets were fired at the Red Sea resort town Monday evening, striking an open area close to the city. Police and security forces resumed their search for the landing site on Tuesday morning, after failing to confirm the rocket strike the night before.
Initial reports had indicated the blasts were centered near the Le-Meridian hotel in the city’s crowded waterfront area.
Initially, the cause of the explosions was not immediately known, and Israel Defense Forces troops were dispatched to the area to search for the source of the blasts.
The explosions came just as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was finishing a speech at the Knesset.
Rockets have targeted the Eilat before, usually overshooting the city or landing outside the populated area.
Israeli officials have warned of a possible escalation in violence with Palestinian militants out of Gaza, after the last week saw an uptick in rocket attacks.
On Sunday, an Israeli strike seriously injured three people, including a member of Islamic Jihad.
Earlier in the day, an Iron Dome anti-missile battery was moved near the city of Beersheba to protect it against rocket attacks. Students who attend schools without rocket protection in the coastal city of Ashdod were told to stay home Monday, signs that the military excpects Gazan militants to strike back.
The Sinai Peninsula, due to the political instability in Egypt, has become a largely lawless area that has been the source of rocket fire before. Egyptian troops are operating in the north of the peninsula with Israel’s blessing, a military source told the Times of Israel on Monday.
The summer saw a number of rocket attacks on the city, one of which was shot down by Iron Dome.
In 2010, a series of rockets fired from Sinai overshot Eilat and landed in Aqaba, Jordan, killing one person and injuring five more.