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Katyusha in Eilat in 2005 Photo: Meir Ohion
Katyusha in Eilat in 2005 Photo: Meir Ohion
 
 

Katyusha lands in Aqaba

Authorities examining whether rocket, believed to be fired from Sinai, was aimed at Eilat. Another rocket lands in Red Sea. No injuries reported in incident

Ahuva Mamos
Latest Update: 04.22.10, 13:24 / Israel News

Attempt to strike Eilat from Egypt? A Katyusha rocket apparently fired at the southern city on Thursday exploded in the Aqaba industrial zone in Jordan.

 

There were no reports of injuries. The report was received by the Eilat Municipality from Jordanian sources.

 

Another rocket was fired, apparently a 107 mm one, and landed in the Red Sea. Jordan is on the lookout for a third rocket.

 

The defense establishment is looking into whether the rocket fired was aimed at Eilat and who is responsible for it. Terrorist cells in the Sinai area may be responsible, and this is being examined as a possible lead. As of now, it is unclear if the rocket firing is an isolated incident or if it is likely to develop.

 

Residents of Eilat heard an explosion Thursday morning, and hours later, it became apparent that the source of the noise was a Katyusha rocket, apparently fired from Sinai, which passed over the city and exploded in Aqaba.

 

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau recently issued a travel advisory warning Israelis in Sinai to leave the peninsula immediately, due to terror threats.

 

More than 20 terrorist organizations, most of which are connected with Global Jihad and al-Qaeda, operate in the area. Others are of a local nature and deal mostly in smuggling. The main objective of all these groups is to wrest power from the Egyptian government and cause the regime severe economic damage, mainly in tourism.

 

In December 2005, Katyusha rockets were fired at Eilat from Jordan. One of the rockets exploded at a junction near the Eilat airport. No one was injured, but a vehicle was damaged in the incident.

 

Almost simultaneously, two more rockets were fired at an American battleship docked in the Port of Aqaba and at the Aqaba military hospital. One Jordanian soldier was killed and another was injured in that incident.

 

Where was it fired from?

Egyptian security forces rejected the possibility that the rockets were fired from Sinai, according to Egyptian media reports. Assessments in Israel and Jordan are increasingly leaning towards concluding that they were fired from Aqaba towards Eilat, but detonated in Jordanian territory for an unknown reason before reaching their intended target.

 

Large military and police forces were dispatched to the border area near Taba after tails of smoke characteristic of a rocket launch were reported. The forces started combing the area, but didn't find anything. At the same time, Jordan reported that a rocket exploded near the industrial zone in Aqaba.

 

A Jordanian security source confirmed to Reuters that two rockets were fired from the city towards Israel, but landed in an empty warehouse in Jordanian territory. On the other hand, official Jordanian sources are denying the report of Katyusha fire.

 

Jordan's Information Minister Nabil Sharif reported that an explosion occurred in the early morning in a refrigerator warehouse near the northern entrance to Aqaba.

 

An Egyptian security source reported, "Security forces are patrolling the border with Israel, and the area is under Egyptian security control. This comes in addition to alertness of Bedouin residents of Sinai along the border that partake in the defense of the eastern border alongside Egypt's security forces. No extremist group can infiltrate the area in order to shake the security."

 

Hanan Greenberg, Roee Nahmias and Reuters contributed to this report

 

First Published: 04.22.10, 11:36

 

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