Thursday, August 16, 2012

15-Aug-12: [UPDATED] Double explosion in Eilat tonight seems to be terrorist rocket fire, but they're still checking

The coast and hotels of Eilat, a major center of Israeli recreation
and tourism [Image Source]
There were reports from Eilat tonight, a little before 10:00 pm, of two very powerful explosions. The source was a spokesperson for the Eilat police. Over the past hour, there has been considerable speculation in the Israeli media that the cause was a pair of GRAD missiles fired from the Sinai peninsula. However the latest information we have (it's just a quarter to midnight, Wednesday night here) is that the police and the IDF have not yet identified the cause and are withholding further comment.

Being so close to Egypt and the Sinai desert, the city of Eilat - Israel's southernmost point - knows something about the dangers of living in a very bad neighborhood. On June 16, 2012, Eilat came under GRAD attack [source]. The 122mm missiles (two of them) exploded harmlessly in open fields, but could just as easily have struck human beings - that was clearly the intention of the terrorists. On April 5, 2012, a GRAD missile exploded in Eilat, just 150 meters from a cluster of residential buildings [source] - and again, luck was with the Israeli side and against the terrorists who fired it. There was a more serious attack in August 2010. Two missiles, each weighing 6 kgs, crashed to earth next to Aqaba's InterContinental hotel just across the Jordanian border. Five Jordanians in a taxi nearby were injured, and the driver was killed [source]. In the same volley, three GRADS fell onto Eilat, one exploding in a drainage pool in northern Eilat. But fortunately (again) there were neither injuries nor damage.

Good luck is not the way countries manage the threats and actions of bomb/rocket/missile-equipped terrorists. So we can assume there will be soon be some Israeli countermeasures.

UPDATE 25-Aug-12: Ynet reports ["Third jihadist group claims responsibility for Eilat rockets] that Ansar Beit al-Makdas, a terrorist group said to be connected to global jihad activities, has released a video that documents the GRAD rocket fire that targeted Eilat on August 15, 2012, and the preparation that preceded it. Two other groups, Ansar al-Quds and the Salafi Sinai Front, have also claimed responsibility for the rockets in the last few days. These may be nothing more than names and empty claims - time will tell.

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