Last updated: 21 January, 2014

Rocket hits outskirts of Israel’s Eilat tourist resort

A jihadist group based in Egypt’s Sinai claimed responsibility Tuesday for firing rockets a day earlier at Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat, calling the Jewish state the Muslim world’s top enemy.

Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis accused Israel of pressuring Cairo to wage a “war on Islam and Muslims in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai… to protect (Israeli) security.”

Since the Egyptian military overthrew Mohamed Morsi in July, the interim authorities have carried out a bloody crackdown on the Islamist former president’s Muslim Brotherhood.

And militant attacks in north Sinai have killed scores of Egyptian soldiers and police.

The army has poured troops into the mountainous and underdeveloped Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel, to combat the growing militancy.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for attacks in various parts of Egypt, added in its statement that “our war against the domestic enemy does not mean we forget the primary enemy of the umma (Muslim world).”

In September, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis carried out a suicide bomb attack on the Egyptian interior minister’s motorcade in Cairo, which the official survived.

On Monday, an Israeli security source said at least one rocket was fired at Eilat. News website Ynet said two rockets exploded in the early evening without causing casualties.

And last month, the group claimed a car bomb attack in northern Egypt that killed 15 people, mostly police.

The last time Eilat came under attack was in August, when the Israeli army said its Iron Dome anti-missile system had intercepted and destroyed a rocket but did not say where it came from.

That attack was claimed by a Gaza-based Salafist group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which has previously said its militants in Sinai had staged several rocket attacks on Eilat.

Since the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Israel’s border with Sinai has seen multiple security incidents, with militants using the lawless peninsula to stage attacks on the Jewish state.