Islamic State claims responsibility for Sinai rocket attack on Israel

Terror group claims it fired rockets at Eshkol region in response to ‘Jewish aircraft’ assisting Egyptian troops fighting insurgents

Illustrative. A rocket that was fired from the Sinai Peninsula and landed in an open field in the Eshkol region on October 15, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative. A rocket that was fired from the Sinai Peninsula and landed in an open field in the Eshkol region on October 15, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Islamic State group took responsibility Monday for two rockets that were fired at southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula during the night.

There were no immediate reports of injury or damage from the projectiles.

The IS announcement was made by the Amaq News Agency, which is affiliated with the terror group.

IS claimed that during clashes with Egyptian forces “Jewish” aircraft were assisting Egypt’s security forces, so in response the rockets fired at the Eshkol region in Israel. The statement did not elaborate on what the Israeli planes were doing.

The two rockets struck areas inside the southern Eshkol region, an area that abuts both the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the army said.

A military spokesperson said one of the missiles had been located in an open field near the communities of Magen and Ein Habasor, but that soldiers and police were still looking for the second.

The IDF also did not immediately identify who launched the rockets, but it was likely the Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The Sinai-based offshoot has been waging a bloody war with Egyptian forces for years and has also occasionally directed its aggression toward Israel, launching rockets at nearby Jewish communities and in one case at the southern city of Eilat.

It was not immediately clear if Israel was specifically targeted or if this was a case of spillover fire from the intense fighting over the border between Islamic State terrorists and Egyptian troops.

On Sunday, members of the terrorist group carried out multiple attacks on six Egyptian checkpoints near the border, killing at least six soldiers and injuring dozens more.

Egyptian officials said the near-simultaneous attacks took place at and around the town of Sheikh Zweid, with dozens of militants using heavy machine guns and mortars. Apache helicopter gunships were called in to repel the attackers, said the officials.

An army statement said 24 of the attackers were killed and two SUVs they used were destroyed. The area was being combed by army troops in pursuit of the militants.

Last Thursday, six Egyptian policemen were killed in an attack in the northern Sinai region.

Occasionally, the terrorist group also launches rocket attacks at Israeli targets, in what many analysts believe to be shows of strength and attempts to score propaganda points.

In April, one rocket struck a greenhouse in the community of Yuval in the Eshkol region, slightly damaging the structure, but causing no injury.

Another rocket was launched at Israel by the terrorist group in May, but it struck an open field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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