A branch of terrorist group Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula proudly claimed responsibility for firing a total of seven rockets towards Eilat on Wednesday night, a popular tourist resort town in southern Israel.
No injuries or damage was reported; however 11 people were treated for shock in Eilat’s Joseftal Hospital, half of whom were tourists.
During the attack, four rockets were fired into southern Israel and three were intercepted by the Iron Dome, Israel’s air defence system, according to Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) Southern Command. As of Thursday morning, Eilat’s threat level was lowered and police said that the city will continue to operate as normal.
The Islamic State message published to the media admitted responsibility for the attacks, stating: “With the grace of God alone, a military squad fired several Grad rockets at encampments of Jewish usurpers in the city of Um al-Rashrash [Eilat] in order to each the Jews and the crusaders that a proxy war will not avail them of anything”.
The message threatened further attacks, adding that: “The future will be more calamitous with Allah’s permission”.
Hours before the incident took place, a mortar shell from a tank in Syria exploded in open territory in the Golan Heights, on Israel’s northern border. The IDF responded to the shell by attacking a Syrian military post in Quneitra. No injuries were reported.
The IDF believes that the mortar shell was not intentionally fired at Israel, but was rather part of the fighting near the border between Syrian army and rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad’s government. Such spillover is not unusual, and the IDF have usually responded to such incidents, regardless if accidental, with attacks against Syrian Army positions.
Islamic State-affiliated terrorists and the Egyptian government in the Sinai Province have engaged in a bloody conflict over recent years. Egypt and Israel are known to have some level of security coordination in the Sinai and attacks on Israel from the Sinai Peninsula have been relatively rare.
Rockets were last fired at Eilat during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when two hit the city centre. 10 people were injured and 13 suffered from shock.
Earlier this week on Monday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Ashkelon region in southern Israel, prompting the IDF to strike several Hamas terror targets in the Strip.