Two Grad rockets, likely fired from Sinai, strike unpopulated areas in southern Israel • One rocket reaches about 140 kilometers (85 miles) north of Eilat for first time • No group claims responsibility, but defense officials believe rockets were fired by Hamas, at behest of Muslim Brotherhood.
The range of terrorists’ rocket attacks is expanding: Two Grad rockets believed to have been fired from Sinai into southern Israel on Friday were discovered near Ovda and Mitzpe Ramon, respectively, penetrating deeper into Israel than ever before.
The rockets hit unpopulated areas, causing no injuries or damage.
Some three months after three Grad rockets fired from Sinai hit Eilat, loud explosions were heard at around 1 a.m. on Saturday near the southern city. Several hours after rocket remnants were discovered in Ovda — some 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) north of Eilat — the remains of an additional rocket were found near Mitzpe Ramon (about 140 kilometers, or 85 miles, north of Eilat).
The targets appear to indicate that Sinai-based terror organizations are expanding their range. Israeli officials are concerned over the possibility of the so-called Gaza effect — referring to the fact that initially Gaza terrorists only fired rockets at Israeli towns near the border and the closest city, Sderot, but eventually expanded the range of their rockets to include cities much further north.
Security officials were not entirely sure where Friday’s rocket was fired from, and the possibility that it had been fired from Jordan was also investigated. But the general assumption was that the rockets had been fired from Egypt.
Security experts suggested that the elections currently underway in Egypt had prompted Hamas, or Hamas-affiliated terror cells, to test weapons at the behest of the Muslim Brotherhood, a sister organization of Hamas.
The head of the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau, Amos Gilad, however, voiced skepticism over the identity of the culprits. “There are many extremist elements in Sinai that are interested in complicating the region, whether al-Qaida or Hamas, some are working for Iran and Hezbollah,” Gilad said.
“The reports that Hamas carried out the Grad attack on the orders of the Muslim Brotherhood don’t seem realistic to me. The Brotherhood is too busy trying to take over Egypt to engage in this kind of attack,” he concluded.
“No one has taken responsibility for the strike,” said one military source. “The general assessment is that terror organizations are once again taking advantage of the lack of governance in the Sinai area to carry out strikes against us.”
The Israel Defense Forces Southern Command only recently decided to reopen Route 12, where terrorists from Sinai killed eight Israelis last August in a multipronged terror attack.