British blues man calls off Eilat gig over rocket fears
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British blues man calls off Eilat gig over rocket fears

Matt Schofield cancels concert at jazz festival following missile fire from Sinai toward southern city last week

British blues guitarist Matt Schofield (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube)
British blues guitarist Matt Schofield (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube)

English blues guitarist Matt Schofield on Sunday canceled an appearance at the Eilat Red Sea Jazz Festival, organizers said, citing the recent firing of a Grad missile at the resort town.

The rocket, fired late last Monday, was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and caused no damage. Three people were treated by paramedics for shock. There have been a number of rocket firings on the city over the years, though few have actually threatened populated areas.

According to the Red Sea Jazz Festival official Facebook page, Schofield, who plays with an eponymous trio, was following travel instructions from the British Foreign Office.

The latest British government travel advisory notes simply, “On 13 August a rocket was intercepted by an Iron Dome anti-missile battery over the southern city of Eilat. No injuries were reported.”

Organizers said Schofield was the only cancellation and all other artists set to attend the festival are expected to play as scheduled. The organizers added that Israeli musicians Alon Oleartchik and Shlomo Yidov will play in Schofield’s place.

The Red Sea Jazz Festival has become a signature event for the southern city. In the past 26 years since the festival was first launched, thousands of jazz enthusiasts have flocked to Eilat twice yearly in order to attend the melodious happening, considered by many to be one of the most impressive and successful of its kind.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stressed that residents and tourists in the southern city of Eilat should not change their routines — even as security forces upped preparedness, fearing more Grad missiles fired from the nearby Sinai Peninsula.

“Our working assumption has been that there is terrorism in Sinai that can certainly try to hit us again… this is the reason that we deployed Iron Dome,” Ya’alon said.

Palestinian sources reported early morning Tuesday that Muslim terror group Majlis Shura al-Majahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis, which operates in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, took responsibility for the attack. The terror group is the same al-Qaeda-linked cell that was targeted last Friday by what was reported to be an Israeli drone, killing four and destroying a rocket launcher in the Sinai.

The defense minister emphasized that, while Israel is carefully watching the developments in Sinai, “we completely respect the Egyptian sovereignty” beyond the border. Even though the terror activities may also involve Israeli targets, Ya’alon said, the primary enemy of the “radical Islamic terrorists” is the Egyptian military and police.

He lauded Egyptian security forces, which are “working to clear out the nests of terrorism” in the northern Sinai.

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