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Search for rockets resumes after blasts heard in Eilat

No injuries reported; source of explosions unknown; security forces comb for rocket debris, but find nothing

A panoramic view of the southern Israeli city of Eilat. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)
A panoramic view of the southern Israeli city of Eilat. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A number of loud explosions were heard near the southern resort city of Eilat shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday night.

There were no reports of injuries. Security forces were dispatched to the area to determine the source of the blasts, but their searches yielded nothing suggesting a possible rocket attack.

They resumed searching on Friday morning.

It was not clear if the explosions were the result of missiles being lobbed at the city from the Sinai Peninsula.

Reports differed as to how many blasts there were. Initial reports indicated two explosions, but an Eilat resident told Ynet news that three were heard.

“I heard three serious explosions with no whistle. I went with my brother and mother into the shelter. There was panic,” the witness said.

The outlet reported that sirens did not sound before the blasts.

Eilat, which sits on the Red Sea, is wedged between Jordan and Egypt. Islamist terrorists based in Sinai have shot missiles at the city several times in past years, though most land in the sea, or open areas.

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In 2010, a Katyusha rocket shot from Sinai overshot the Israeli city and hit a taxi in the Jordanian resort town of Aqaba, killing the driver and wounding five more people.

Sinai terrorists have faced a crackdown over the last year as Egyptian security forces have attempted to cleanse the peninsula of Islamist militants.

Egypt is going through a tumultuous transition period after the military overthrew president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday, installing an interim caretaker chief until new elections.

Egyptian troops had reportedly beefed up their presence in the Sinai, particularly near the border with Gaza, as protests in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt intensified over the last several days ahead of the coup.

Morsi hails from the hard-line Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, but ordered the Sinai crackdown after an attack by Salafists on a police station in August 2011 that left 16 dead.

Terror groups have used the peninsula as a base from which to attack Israel. The territory was largely unpoliced until 2011 as part of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which made much of the Sinai a demilitarized buffer zone.

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