Two grad rockets were fired towards the coastal resort city of Eilat, which is located right on the Red Sea near the Jordanian and Egyptian borders. There were no reports of injuries or serious damage, although a number of Israelis were treated for shock. This was not the first time that qassam rockets landed within Eilat. There were three such qassam rocket attacks in Eilat in 2012 alone. Nevertheless, such attacks are not frequent enough within Eilat for residents to be used to such occurrences. Eilat resident Simon Bar-Zion proclaimed, “It was really scary, I didn’t know what to do as I have no TV at home; I saw everyone was staying indoors.”
The Eilat Airport was forcefully shut down temporarily because of these rocket attacks. Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld declared, “We shut down the airport for security reasons. We’ll take additional precautions in the event of more rocket sirens.” Since then, however, the Eilat airport has returned to full operation, once it was clear that the situation was stabilized.
The rocket is believed to have been fired from the Sinai, where Islamist terror groups have thrived in a virtually lawless situation ever since Hosni Mubarak’s downfall from power in 2011. Egyptian security sources are investigating whether or not the rockets were fired from Egyptian territory. “We are still investigating to see if they were delivered from Egyptian territories but nothing is confirmed yet,” a senior Egyptian military official reported.
Meanwhile, a Salafi Jihadist group which is active both within the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip known as the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem has claimed responsibility for this terror attack. The group has attacked Israeli targets in the past and views violence against Jews as a religious obligation that helps bring Muslims closer to G-d. They also support the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate and the implementation of Shariah law within Muslim societies.
Previous Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem attacks in the past include a June 18, 2012 explosion along the Israeli Egyptian border which resulted in the murder of Saeed Fashafshe, a 35-year-old Israeli Arab citizen and father of four children; the launching of three qassam rockets at Sderot on August 26, 2012 that caused damage within the city’s industrial area and injured one Israeli civilian; and the firing of four qassam rockets at the city of Sderot on March 21, 2013, one of which hit the backyard of a private home that resulted in some damage. The group is relatively new, emerging following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom claimed that these qassam rocket attacks within Eilat demonstrated that Israel must be responsible for her own security needs. He claimed, “Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day, and this morning we received a painful reminder of the neighborhood in which we live. The attack reinforces the need for us to safeguard our own security, and not put our destiny in the hands of others. The year 2013 will be a decisive one with difficult and complex threats.”
By Rachel Avraham