(photo credit: Associated Press)
Evidence shows that Hamas’s military wing twice fired Katyusha rockets at Eilat
and Aqaba – once in April and a second time on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu charged in a statement released to the press on Wednesday
“We investigated these two incidents. It is clear to us beyond any
doubt that in both incidents a cell of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza
surreptitiously fired the missiles,” Netanyahu said. “I want to be clear: Using
the territory of a third country — a peaceful one — in order to launch missiles
against Israel won’t help Hamas escape responsibility.”
Hamas: No connection to Eilat-Aqaba rocket attack
Eilat tourism sector unfazed by attack
'Terrorists want to thwart peace'
went on by saying that Israel viewed the attacks “with great severity” and
described them as an attempt to “harm Israel’s relationship with Egypt and
On April 22, a Katyusha rocket fired from Sinai hit a warehouse
in Aqaba, but Israel believed the intended target had been Eilat. On Monday
morning, six Katyusha rockets were fired from Sinai. One came to earth in the
Sinai; another fell in a field near Eilat, while two more landed in the Red Sea.
The remaining two rockets struck near the Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba,
killing one person and wounding four.
Cairo initially denied that this
week’s missiles had been fired from Sinai. By Wednesday, however, it had changed
it tune, and Egyptian security authorities were blaming armed groups in the Gaza
Egypt’s announcement triggered a strong response from Hamas and
other groups in Gaza. Their spokesmen denied any involvement.
official in the Gaza Strip said his movement did not rule out the possibility
that Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida elements in Sinai had been behind the attacks.
Islamic Jihad leaders, however, denied any involvement.
Egyptian news agency Ashraq Al-Awsat quoted an Egyptian security source as
saying that “preliminary information” indicated that Palestinian groups in the
Gaza Strip had been behind Monday’s rockets.
“Egypt would not agree,
under any circumstances, that any party use its territories to harm Egyptian
interests,” the source cautioned.
The Egyptian source did not hold Hamas
responsible. Nevertheless, the announcement was seen as a warning to Hamas
against allowing armed groups to use the Gaza Strip as a launching pad for
The Egyptians said that at least seven Grad rockets
had been fired at Eilat and Aqaba from Sinai.
However, the Egyptian
magazine Al-Yom Al-Sabe quoted an Egyptian security official as saying that
Hamas had indeed been involved in the attacks. The official added that Hamas men
had infiltrated Sinai through tunnels before firing the rockets, and that Sinai
had been chosen to “arouse suspicion” about Egypt’s role.
quoted in the magazine added that the Hamas cell responsible for the attack had
been aided by local Beduin.
Hamas reiterated on Wednesday that the
allegations had been “fabricated” by Israel and Egypt. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu
Zuhri said Cairo’s accusations were “unprofessional, contradictory and
unreliable.” He added that the Egyptian charges were “politically motivated” and
aimed at inciting against the Gaza Strip,“to justify the continued siege and
Hamas remained opposed to “exporting” the fight against
Israel outside the Palestinian territories, Abu Zuhri said.
Bardaweel, another Hamas spokesman, accused the Egyptians of issuing
“contradictory” statements on the incident.
He said the new allegations
against Hamas “provide Israel with an excuse to strike at Egypt and the Gaza