A high ranking Egyptian army officer told the Palestinian
news agency Maan on Friday that Cairo alerted Israel
to threats made by Sinai Peninsula-based militant groups to attack Israeli targets with 70 km-ranged rockets, which led to Eilat Airport's shut down on Thursday.
The report said that Egyptian intelligence services acquired information that the Sinai groups are in possession of ground-air rockets and intend to attack strategic facilities in Sinai during the Eid al-Fieter holiday.
In addition, the report said that Egyptian fighter jets routinely circle over Sinai to thwart possible attempts to launch rockets and attack in Sinai and the Negev.
The Eilat Airport was closed on Thursday after an IDF
situation assessment. Initially it was reported that the IDF instructed the airspace shut down for arrivals and allow departing airplanes, but the airport was soon shut down completely.
The airspace over Eilat was reopened two hours later by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz's
Across the border, the Egyptain army continues to hunt down militants in the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt's army spokesperson, Ahmad Ali, recently stated that during an operation last month 103 militants were captured and 60 killed in Sinai.
The statement noted that the army destroyed 102 tunnels on the Sinai-Gaza border and demolished 40 fuel silos. In addition, some militants' vehicles were confiscated.
Last month the IDF deployed an Iron Dome
battery in Eilat. The battery was deployed at the height of the tourist season for fear the city would become the target of rocket fire. The IDF has arranged that the city's siren system be connected to the alert systems installed on the Israel-Egypt
border, so that rockets launched toward the city will trigger the siren system.
Iron Dome in Eilat (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
Last week the world was alerted to the possibility of an al Qaeda coordinated attack, and the US shut down many of its worldwide embassies, including the one in Tel Aviv.
According to reports, the reason for the alert was a conference call held by al Qaeda leaders from across the globe.
According to the Daily Beast website, militant leaders from Sinai also participated in the call, leading to the closure of the US Tel Aviv embassy on Sunday.
An American official told the Daily Beast that "They proved they can fire on Eilat, and it's not beyond their ability to hit Tel Aviv."
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