Two Russian-designed Grad rockets landed in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba last week, one damaging an empty storage warehouse and the other landing in the Red Sea near Israel, news sources reported Thursday. In addition, over the weekend, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that a Grad rocket was found early Saturday morning off the shores of Eilat. Police suspect that the rocket found off the shores was the third rocket fired, as opposed to initial reports of only two.
The incident occurred just one week after Israel issued an “urgent” warning to its citizens to leave Egypt’s nearby Sinai Peninsula immediately, citing “concrete intelligence” of “an immediate terror activity to kidnap an Israeli in Sinai.” Nevertheless, both Egyptian and Jordanian officials denied that the rockets were launched from their respective counties. “We are 100% sure that the rocket which hit a warehouse in Aqaba was not fired from Jordanian territory, but from beyond our borders,” Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai told reporters.
So far no one has accepted responsibility for the attacks, and the origins are still uncertain. However, Israeli security officials believe the attack came from Sinai and was carried out by Palestinian organizations affiliated with Global Jihad against Eilat, Israel’s most southern city and a thriving tourist site. “This type of fire, even when there is no hit or casualties, has major significance and we need to consider it,” he said. “What is clear now already is that there’s lively terror activity in the Sinai, and this incident merely serves to reinforce this assumption.”
Despite the relative calm in recent years, Sinai’s northern Bedouin community has forged close links with Hamas, as many rely on working in the Hamas smuggling tunnels for income. Indeed, in order to bring an end to this dangerous partnership, Cairo should invest in legal sources of income for the inhabitants of Northern Sinai. Only then will the Bedouin be less tempted to engage with Hamas, and provide the Palestinian militants with a safe-haven in the Sinai.