Eilat airfield was closed for a couple of hours Wednesday morning, April 17, after five Grad missiles were launched from Sinai. Three exploded in Israel’s southernmost town; two more near the neighboring Jordanian town of Aqaba. This is denied by Jordan although confirmed by the Israeli military spokesman. Planes were allowed to takeoff from Eilat but landings were barred.
Although southern Israeli was on alert from April 3 on intelligence of a multiple al Qaeda terror offensive impending by al Qaeda cells in Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip, the five-rocket salvo took the IDF by surprise. The Iron Dome missile interceptor deployed outside the town did not function and the warning sirens sounded after the missiles exploded. No casualties were reported.
Incoming intelligence of All Qaeda groups in the Sinai Peninsula winding up preparations for a multiple attack on an Israeli location, such as Eilat, and a US military target in the Negev, has put southern Israel and US forces posted there on high terror alert. This is reported byDEBKAfile’s military sources.
The Israeli high command decided to treat the five Qassam rockets fired at Shear Hanegev Wednesday, April 3, which were claimed by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Salafist “Jihad Brigades in Jerusalem.” as the opening salvo for this coordinated attack. An Iron Dome battery was accordingly moved Thursday to the Israeli-Egyptian border north of the southern port of Eilat and additional IDF strength directed to the South.
Heavy sandstorms in the region have sharply reduced visibility for troop movements and provided excellent cover for terrorist infiltration.