The Palestinian news agency Maan reported a loud explosion was heard on Friday in the Egyptian side of Rafah near the Israeli border, in the vicinity of the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
An Egyptian army source told the agency that an Israeli drone bombed ready-to-launch rockets deployed on Thursday in a desert area in the town, following a fly-over in which the rockets were detected.
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According to the source, at least five militants were killed in the bombing. The IDF refused to comment.
Drone (Archive photo: AP)
According to Egyptian reports, which have not received official confirmation, Sinai militant groups decided to launch rockets at Israel, after acquiring various rockets via smuggling routes through the Red Sea.
The AP news agency reported two senior Egyptian defense sources said that the Israeli airstrike was coordinated with the Egyptian authorities. An aircraft fired two rockets toward the target in Rafah, killing five militants and destroying a rocket launching platform, said the AP report.
Conversely, the Egyptian news website al-Masrawi reported, based on official Sinai sources, that it was an Egyptian aircraft which tracked movements by militant operatives in Rafah based on information acquired by Egyptian security services that militants set up a rocket launching platform in the area, to be used against Egyptian and Israeli targets.
The sources denied reports that the attacker was an Israeli aircraft, and added that the Egyptian aircraft left the area immediately after the strike, fearing anti-aircraft rockets, which according to the sources, Sinai militants recently acquired.
The Turkish news agency also reported that it was Egyptian army helicopters which bombed a militant group's training facility in the al-Ajra area south of Egyptian Rafah near the Gaza border.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram quoted the Egyptian army spokesperson who said that on 4:15 pm on Friday two explosions were heard about three kilometers west of the border line. According to him, Egyptian army forces are canvassing the area to find an explanation for the explosions.
An Israel source said in response to the reports: "We're aware of the increase Egyptian army activity against terror in Sinai."
Earlier on Friday Maan reported that it was an Egyptian alert of anti-aircraft rockets in Sinai which led to the closure of Eilat's airport for two hours on Thursday.
The news agency reported that according to high ranking Egyptian army officer, Cairo alerted Israel to threats made by Sinai Peninsula-based militant groups to attack Israeli targets with 70 km-ranged rockets.
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 order.
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.
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