(August 13, 2013 / JNS) Hours after a Grad rocket was intercepted by an Israeli Iron Dome battery in the southern city of Eilat for the first time, a Salafi Palestinian terror organization claimed responsibility for the attack. The group claimed the rocket attack was in retaliation for a weekend drone strike, attributed to Israel by foreign media, which killed four Palestinian terrorists as they were readying to launch a rocket into Israel.
The Salafi group—The Mojahideen Shura Council Environs of Jerusalem—which operates in Sinai and the Gaza Strip, issued a statement on Tuesday saying, “We bombed Umm al-Rashrash (the Arabic name for Eilat) with a Grad rocket was a rapid response to the crime committed by Jews recently, in which four jihadi fighters were killed by drone in Sinai.”
The organization went on to issue threats, saying, “The Mojahideen have infused fear and awe into the hearts of the criminal Jews who were forced to scurry into bomb shelters in the middle of the night. Some of them got scared and announced that three rockets had been fired, and some of them were intercepted.”
“We want to emphasize that Eilat and other Jewish cities will never enjoy security, tourism or a flourishing economy. The Jews will pay for the jihadi fighters who died in Sinai. Sinai will stand strong against Israeli aggression,” the statement said.
The group posted its message on social media networks and via Egyptian media outlets.
Israel’s Channel 2 network quoted a source close to global jihad in Sinai as saying that a Grad rocket that was fired into Eilat on Monday was the same rocket that was supposed to be launched on Thursday, before the drone strike in Rafah. “The organization that came under attack managed to transfer the rocket to a secret location, and then to the spot where it was launched toward Eilat,” the source said.
On Tuesday, the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system intercepted the rocket bound for Eilat. No one was wounded, and the explosion caused no damage.
Security forces rushed to Eilat after loud explosions were heard over the city at 1 a.m. Tuesday. Preliminary investigations showed that the Grad rocket had been fired from the Sinai Peninsula as part of a salvo of rockets fired toward Eilat. The Iron Dome only intercepted the rocket that was calculated to have been heading toward a populated area.
Many residents of Eilat reported hearing a loud whistling noise.
“We heard a siren and immediately afterward we saw the interception in the sky. The explosion looked like flares being fired, and we immediately understood it was an Iron Dome interception,” Eilat resident Aya Plashkes said.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office confirmed that it was Iron Dome’s first successful interception in Eilat. The rocket attack came as Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations were set to resume on Wednesday in Jerusalem.
This story originally appeared in Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed exclusively by JNS.org.