Israel has put its forces on high alert after a rocket fired from Egyptian territory exploded in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. The Grad rocket caused no damage or injuries, but the impact of the explosion shattered some windows nearby. Debris from the rocket fell near a residential building and several people were treated for shock, according to Israel's 'Army Radio'.
It was first the missile attack launched against Israel from Egypt since the collapse of the regime of Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago. Thousands of local and foreign tourists are pouring into Eilat for the Passover holidays which begin this Friday. The head of Eilat police said explosions were heard in the town soon after midnight. Police found the remains of one rocket in a construction site, about 400 metres from a residential area. Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak-Halevy told the ‘Jerusalem Post’ that the city would function as normal despite the attack.
"For a long while now we have been seeing that the Sinai peninsula is turning into a launching ground against the citizens of Israel, for terror," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the attack. He added: "We are dealing with this. We are building a security fence but it will not stop missiles; for this a solution will be found as well. We will strike at those who attack us. There can be no immunity for terrorism; it must be fought and we are doing so. In the end, nobody will defend the Jews if the Jews do not defend themselves."
Officials in Israel are concerned that the Sinai desert has become a flourishing base for Islamist militants since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's downfall last year. The Israel-Egypt border had been relatively quiet since the two countries signed a peace agreement in 1979 although in 2010 missile attacks on Eilat and the neighboring Jordanian town of Aqaba killed one person and injured another four.
Israel says that since Mubarak was overthrown Cairo has lost its grip on Sinai and militants are exploiting the lawlessness. In August 2011, an armed group crossed the border into Israel from the Sinai and killed eight Israelis traveling on a bus.