Rocket hits south Israel resort town, no injuries (AP) Associated Press) By TIA GOLDENBERG JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/05/12)
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JERUSALEM (AP) ó A rocket hit the southern Israeli resort city of
Eilat near the Egyptian and Jordanian borders Thursday, Israeli
police said. Rocket launches are rare in this part of Israel and
police suspect that it came from Egypt´s Sinai Peninsula.
Explosions were heard after midnight in Eilat, a popular tourist
destination on the Red Sea that is getting set to welcome thousands
of visitors for the Passover holiday.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no one was injured in the
attack and that police were searching for other rockets that may have
landed in the city.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Rosenfeld said the
rocket was likely fired from Egypt´s Sinai Peninsula.
Israel has been warning of growing lawlessness in Sinai. Weak
policing and difficult terrain may be turning the peninsula into the
latest focus of Islamic militant activity in the region.
Last year, gunmen infiltrated into Israel and ambushed vehicles on a
desert highway, killing eight Israelis in a brazen, coordinated
attack. Israel accused Palestinian militants from Gaza of crossing
westward into Sinai, making their way along the Israel-Egypt border
and crossing back eastward into Israel to carry out the attack.
That incident suggested that Egypt´s political upheaval and the
resulting power vacuum allowed Gaza militants with allies in Sinai to
open a new front against Israel on its long-quiet frontier with Egypt.
Rockets are regularly fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in
the Gaza Strip, but launches from Egyptian territory are rare.
Thursday´s launch, if it came from Sinai, would be the first cross-
border rocket attack from Egypt since the fall of the Hosni Mubarak
regime last year. Rockets last hit Eilat and the nearby Jordanian
town of Aqaba in 2010, killing one person and injuring four.
In a bid to halt the entry of both militants and illegal migrants,
Israel has stepped up surveillance on the Egyptian border and is
building an electronic barrier along the 230-kilometer (150-mile)
frontier. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Most militant attacks in Sinai are directed against Egyptian
government targets, including police facilities and a natural gas
pipeline that supplies Israel and Jordan. Islamic radicals who fled
Egyptian prisons during the chaos surrounding last year´s revolution
sought asylum in Sinai, hooking up with disgruntled tribes and
militant groups that already had built strongholds there.
Egypt became the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel
in 1979, but with the rise of Islamist parties who traditionally view
Israel with hostility, Israel has become concerned that the accord
may be under threat.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest party in Egypt´s parliament, does
not openly oppose the peace deal with Israel, but has said it would
consider amending the pact to allow more Egyptian troops along the
border with Israel. The deployment of Egyptian forces in the Sinai is
limited under the 1979 deal. (© 2012 The Associated Press 04/05/12)
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