Grad Explodes Near Eilat Residential Area; Rocket Apparently Fired From Sinai

Traces of rocket found some 150 meters from a residential area in Eilat, southern Israel; no injuries or damage reported; forces continuing search for rockets.

A grad rocket exploded near a residential area in the southern Israeli city of Eilat early on Thursday morning.

No injuries or damage were reported, but some Eilat residents were said to be suffering from shock.

The rocket traces found in south Eilat, Thursday, April 5, 2012.
Eilat District Police

Security forces found traces of the rocket near a building site in the Shahamon neighborhood early on Thursday morning, about 150 meters from a residential area, after strong explosions shook the city approximatley twenty minutes after midnight on Wednesday.

Security forces continued to search for traces of more rockets, thought to have been fired toward the city from the Sinai Peninsula.

Ron Gertner, police commander for the Eilat district, said that, according to estimates, "the rocket was fired from the Sinai area," adding that “investigations will continue in the morning, and only after their completion will we be able to reach any final conclusions.”

Eilat resident Yossi Atia, who immigrated to Israel from France 16 years ago, was the person who found the rocket traces. He said he heard the explosion when he was in his house, about 150 meters from where the rocket exploded.

“My wife shouted,” he said, “I went out and looked for traces of the rocket,” he said. “I searched for forty minutes with torches until I found [the traces].” After finding the remains of the rocket, he called the police.

Many city residents came out of their houses when they heard the explosions . R., a resident of the Shahamon neighbourhood in Eilat, said that they heard a loud noise about twenty minutes after midnight. "I heard two explosions that shook the area," R. said. "After that, a strong and unusual smell started to spread, not something that I can define."

The most recent incident of terrorism in the Eilat area took place in August 2011, when eight people were killed and dozens wounded in a series of attacks on Israeli targets approximately 20 kilometers north of Eilat.

In August 2010, five grad rockets fired from Egypt exploded in the Eilat area and in Aqaba in Jordan. One Jordanian man was killed by the rocket fire.

A senior security official said last month that several terror groups are now at large in the Sinai. These groups include local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran, who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. Joining them are Global Jihad militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, according to the official.

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