Tuesday, January 21, 2014

21-Jan-14: Eilat under rocket attack tonight

There has been a rocket attack on the Israeli resort city of Eilat tonight (Monday).

AFP is reporting that "at least one rocket struck the outskirts" of Eilat; authorities found their remains on the city's outskirts. Searches are continuing for signs of more rockets. Residents reported hearing several explosions during the evening, but at this stage (it's just after midnight) both the Israel Police and the IDF are still unable to confirm that there was rocket fire. At various points in the past five hours, it was suggested that rockets had crashed to earth near one of Eilat's best-known hotels; those reports are almost certainly wrong and may simply reflect the reality that people hearing sudden loud explosions are not always well-placed to judge how close the source of the noise is.

Over at Haaretz, they say that what was heard in Eilat was a series of explosions, indicating incoming rockets from the Sinai Peninsula. The blasts were around 7:00 pm, Monday. A police search will get underway at dawn.

Times of Israel says there were two GRAD rockets and that they struck an open area close to the city. (GRADs have been deployed by Sinai-based terrorists in their attacks on Eilat in the past - in April 2013 for instance.) Egyptian military forces are carrying out anti-terrorism operations in the north of the Sinai peninsula - with Israel’s blessing, according to a military source referenced in the Times of Israel piece tonight.

UPDATE Tuesday January 21, 2014: Credit for the attack on Eilat has been claimed by the terror group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which Times of Israel describes as having close ties to Egypt’s Salafi movement. Their motivations are not so complicated: "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.”

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