EGYPTIAN POLICEMEN are seen from the Israeli side patrolling the Sinai border on February 10..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One person was killed by a strike by an unmanned aerial vehicle in Sinai’s Rafah on Monday, hours after a Grad rocket struck a greenhouse in Israel’s Eshkol region, Al Jazeera reported.
The IDF has not commented on the claim, but the Israel is reported to have carried out drone strikes with Egypt’s knowledge and blessing against terrorists in the restive peninsula.
The army stated that the rocket was fired from Sinai, and Sinai Province, the Islamic State group there, claimed responsibility for the Grad that hit in Moshav Yevul next to the Egyptian border through the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency.
One person suffered from shock as the result of the strike; no other injuries were reported.
Rocket alert sirens warned of the incoming projectile.
Residents reported hearing blasts and security personnel found the projectile shortly afterward in a greenhouse.
The rocket fire came as Jews were preparing for Passover, and shortly after the government closed the Taba Border Crossing between Eilat and Egypt to outgoing traffic, concerned that terrorists would target tourists in Sinai.
In a statement, the Counter- Terrorism Bureau said that Intelligence Minister Israel Katz had taken the decision following consultations with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, citing “the intensifying activities” of ISIS terrorists in Sinai in recent months as well as the severity and seriousness of the threat of an attack.
Israelis in the Sinai Peninsula should return home immediately, the ministry said.
The closing of the border, which forced thousands of Israelis who had intended to spend their Passover vacations in the peninsula to change their plans at last minute, was effective immediately and will remain in effect at least until April 18.
Nonetheless, the road along the Egyptian border, Route 10, will be open to civilians during the holiday. The road is usually closed to non-military vehicles.
Israel has a 240-kilometer border with Sinai, and since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rise to power, Cairo and Jerusalem have been closely cooperating in the peninsula in the fight against ISIS gunmen. The group, which is centered on Egyptian Rafah, also operates in El-Arish, Bir Abd and Sheikh Zuweid.
Sisi has waged extensive military operations against Sinai Province, and in January said that 25,000 soldiers have been deployed to northern Sinai to fight the jihadists, who despite the small size of the group in the peninsula is one of the most effective ISIS franchises outside Syria and Iraq, and has carried out numerous deadly attacks on Egyptian security forces.
The group was known as the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Beit al-Maqdis until it pledged allegiance to Islamic State in November 2014. While the jihadist group does not consider Israel its principal target, and incidents along the Israel- Egypt border are rare, there have been several attacks, some deadly.
In February, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage fired from the Sinai toward Eilat. The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted three projectiles while a fourth hit in an open area. There were no casualties but four people were treated for anxiety.
In 2014, two Israeli soldiers were wounded by gunshots and an anti-tank missile that were fired at their patrol vehicle from Sinai. In September 2012, an Israeli soldier was killed when his patrol came under fire in the Mount Sagi area.
In August 2011, gunmen infiltrated southern Israel and opened fire on a bus on Route 12 between Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat. Shortly thereafter, two explosive devices were detonated against an IDF unit on its way to the ambush, and following that a mortar shell was fired toward a vehicle, and another bus and vehicle were hit by gunfire and an anti-tank missile. Seven Israelis were killed and 31 others were wounded.