Sunday, October 15, 2017

15-Oct-17: Rockets strike southern Israel from Sinai

Incoming hostile rockets were detected at about 10:15 tonight (Sunday) in southern Israel, and as a result the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) warning system was activated in multiple communities.

The IDF says there were two rockets and unlike the recent spate of inbound missiles from Gaza where Hamas runs everything, these originated in Sinai. The last time we saw Sinai rockets here was during the inaugural Trump visit five months ago: "23-May-17: In the midst of US presidential visit, ISIS plays its hand".

No indication yet of whether there has been any damage to property or worse. Israel National News says explosions were heard in the Eshkol region. Times of Israel quotes the IDF:
A military spokesperson said they were still looking for the rockets, indicating that they likely struck an open field, rather than a populated area. The army did not immediately identify who launched the rockets, but it was likely a Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group.
Some background via Ynet:
Earlier in the day [Sunday], suspected Islamic State militants attacked six checkpoints in the turbulent north of the Sinai Peninsula, killing six [Egyptian] soldiers and wounding 37, according to [Egyptian] security and hospital officials. The 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... Egyptian security forces have for years battled militants in northern Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. But the insurgency there has gained momentum after the Egyptian military ousted an elected Islamist president [Morsi] in 2013.
Sheikh Zuweid (using the more common spelling) is a Sinai town of some 60,000 Bedouin that has been under the control of ISIS since 2015. Reuters adds this evening to what we know from Ynet when it says
At least 24 militants and six soldiers were killed on Sunday in attacks on military outposts in North Sinai, the Egyptian military said in a statement. The statement did not give details, but security and medical sources said about 20 members of the security forces had also been injured when more than 100 militants repeatedly attacked security outposts south of the border town of Sheikh Zuweid. The attackers used car bombs and rocket propelled grenades (RPG), the sources said.
Egypt's Sinai has been in a state of almost complete chaos for the past six years. This Jerusalem Post
backgrounder ["Lawlessness and terror: The Beduin kingdom of Sinai"] from March 2012 traces the spiraling downwards.

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