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Egypt Says Gaza-Based Terrorists Fired on Eilat from Sinai

Egypt admitted Wednesday that Monday’s rocket attack on Eilat came from its territory in the Sinai and blamed a Gaza-based terrorist group.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/4/2010, 1:48 PM / Last Update: 8/4/2010, 1:54 PM

Israel news photo montage

Egyptian security sources admitted Wednesday that Monday’s rocket attack on Eilat was launched from within its territory in the Sinai and blamed a Gaza-based terrorist group, without identifying it. Other sources identified Hamas by name.

Cairo previously had claimed that the Katyusha rockets were not fired from within its borders. The official Middle East News Agency reported that the terrorists infiltrated from Gaza into the Sinai through smuggling tunnels.

Hamas controls Gaza and has denied any involvement in the launching of the missiles. One of the missiles hit the Jordanian side of the Gulf of Aqaba and killed one person.

The Fatah Intifada Movement representative in Lebanon said Monday his group backs rocket attacks on Israel and would be willing participate, a Lebanese television station reported.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), Jordan's largest opposition political party, accused Israel of being behind the rocket attack on Eilat, saying it was "undoubtedly a Zionist act [to] shake the safety and stability of Jordan and drag countries in the region to increased security coordination with Israel." 

Eilat police updated a previous report and said that two of the six rockets exploded within the city’s limits and not in the sea, as was previously stated by Eilat Mayor Yitzchak HaLevi. Authorities have not yet located the impact sites of three other missiles that landed in the area.

Israel National News reported Tuesday night that if Hamas terrorists from the Sinai were involved in the attack, it would be strong evidence of its ability to use the Sinai Peninsula to stage attacks on Israel.

Israel withdrew from the Gaza area in 2005 and surrendered control of the Philadelphi smuggling route along the Egyptian-Gaza border. Smuggling of terrorists, weapons and human traffic—particularly Africans—has increased sharply since then, often with the cooperation of Bedouin tribes.

Failure of Egypt to prevent cooperation among Hamas, Bedouin and Egyptian’s Muslim Brotherhood terrorists would increase Hamas’s stature in Gaza and in other parts of the Arab world while trying to draw Israel into a conflict on an additional front.