Sinai Rocket Strikes Israel Moments After Egypt Border Shuts for Fear of Imminent Attack

Sirens sound moments after Israel closed crossing into Egypt fearing imminent attack ■ ISIS claims attack ■ No injuries, one suffers shock ■ Israelis requested to return from Sinai

The remains of a rocket launched at an Israeli community from Sinai, April 10, 2017.
The remains of a rocket launched at an Israeli community from Sinai, April 10, 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Militants in Sinai fired a rocket at Israel on Monday, the army said, moments after Israel closed its southern border with Egypt for fear of an imminent attack. The rocket hit a greenhouse in a southern Israeli community near the Egypt and Gaza borders.

No injuries were reported in the rocket attack, but one person suffered from shock.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement published on the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said that militants of the group fired a Grad rocket at "settlements in the Jewish Eshkol region.".

The greenhouse struck by a rocket in southern Israel, April 10, 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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The rocket was fired at the community in the Eshkol region, moments after Israel announced that it is barring Israelis from crossing the Taba border point into Egypt, following an alert against an attack targeting Israelis. Israeli citizens will not be allowed to cross into Sinai, but will be allowed to return to Israel.

Israelis currently in Sinai were requested to leave the area and return to Israel. Foreign nationals would still be able to cross the border.

Israel decided to shut the border in light of concrete information received about a planned attack against Israeli targets in the Sinai area. It follows two bombings of Egyptian churches a day earlier and threats by ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks that killed nearly 50 people. The Israeli announcement also referred to increased ISIS-affiliated activity in Sinai.

The southern border crossing, near the city of Eilat, is the tourist gateway to the Sinai Peninsula. Monday marks the eve of Passover, and hundreds of Israelis were expected to travel to Sinai during the holiday.

The decision was made by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, in coordination with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and security officials. Katz, who also holds the intelligence portfolio, ordered that Israeli citizens not be allowed to cross from Taba to Sinai until April 18, after the holiday.

On Sunday, two bombings targeting churches in Egypt killed 48 people and wounded dozens more. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, and threatened more attacks were planned.

Israel's counterterrorism chief said in March that if any concrete threats against Israeli tourists emerge from acute warnings of an imminent attack in the area, the border crossing to Sinai would be closed.

The current travel advisory is already at the highest possible threat level, but closing the border suggested increased concerns for the safety of Israeli tourists in Sinai.

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