Rocket Downpour Does Little to Dampen Sunny Eilat

Mayor of Eilat: It's in the regional interest that there be quiet in the northern Eilat Gulf and that also means Aqaba, Taba and certainly Eilat.

Some people had no trouble hearing the sound of the rockets on Monday morning in Eilat. At the Yitzhak Rabin border terminal with Jordan, about 150 tourists were completing crossing formalities when security personnel evacuated the terminal, tour guide Afdi Surin said. "They immediately moved us to a stream bed to protect us, and 40 minutes later they opened the terminal again," Surin, from Eilat, said. None of the tourists at the border reconsidered their trip to Jordan.

At the terminal, about three kilometers north of Eilat, personnel said there was no unusual movement of travelers - at this time of year mostly Arabs - from Aqaba back to Eilat. On the Jordanian side of the border it was reportedly also business as usual.

No Eilat hotels reported sudden departures by their guests - mostly domestic tourists. One guest, from Tal-El in Western Galilee, said the barrage caught him at breakfast. "I didn't hear a thing. I was enjoying my meal. Tal-El was in Katyusha range during the Second Lebanon War and we took direct hits, so this doesn't scare me a bit," he said.

In contrast, Mohammed Ibrahim, a refugee from Darfur who has been working at an Eilat hotel for two years, could not calm down.

"I was in the office, I heard 'boom boom'. I thought something fell and I went out of the hotel. I was scared. I thought something that was not good had happened. I don't want to leave. Israel is good, really good," he said.

Eilat's mayor, Meir Yitzhak-Halevi, said the rocket barrage was "extraordinary, not part of the city's routine."

He called on the Egyptian authorities to prevent terror from Sinai. "It is in the regional interest that there be quiet in the northern Eilat Gulf and that also means Aqaba, and Taba [the border crossing with Egypt] and certainly Eilat," he said.

Shabtai Shay, CEO of the Eilat Hotel Association, said the city's hotels were at 80 percent occupancy. He said travel agents from abroad were calling to find out what was happening, but there had been no cancellations for the upcoming holiday season.