Rockets to Eilat – but from where? (updated)
Times of Israel reports:
|Eilat rocket from April 2013|
Two Grad rockets were fired at the Red Sea resort town of Eilat Monday evening, striking an open area close to the city.
Initial reports had indicated the blasts were centered near the Le-Meridian hotel in the city’s crowded waterfront area.
The cause of the explosions was not immediately known, and Israel Defense Forces troops were dispatched to the area to search for the source of the blasts.
The explosions came just as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was finishing a speech at Israel’s Knesset.
It is unclear how the newspaper knows they are Grad rockets if the remains weren’t found.
AFP has an unnamed source:
At least one rocket struck the outskirts of Israel’s southern Red Sea resort of Eilat on Monday, a security source told AFP.
“At least one rocket was fired at Eilat and they found the remains on the outskirts of the city,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding the searches were continuing.
Neither the police nor the army could confirm rocket fire on the city, although residents had reported hearing several explosions earlier in the evening, a police statement said.
The Jewish Press guesses:
It was not clear if the missiles were launched from the Sinai or central Gaza, but in either case, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or their brethren probably were involved.
However, the idea that rockets reached from Gaza to Eilat is far-fetched. If it was true, then the range of Gaza rockets is much longer than previously shown and there is no way the terrorists would waste a “surprise” like that without a good reason. A rocket from Gaza that goes over 100 miles/160 km would invite an immediate and devastating IDF response, with or without damage.
Which means that the rockets likely came from Egypt and overshot, or from Jordan and fell short. Egypt is the far more obvious candidate.
I doubt Hamas would want to be involved in such an enterprise, but Islamic Jihad very possibly might. However, the Sinai Salafists don’t need much of a reason to shoot at Israel and they know that Israel isn’t likely to shoot back. So my guess is that, assuming that these were rockets, they were from one of the many Islamist groups in the Sinai.
UPDATE: I was right; the Salafist group “Ansar al-Bayt al-Maqdis” took credit for the rockets.
Their message was that this was to punish the Jews for desecrating holy places.