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EGYPT: Mystery rockets stir speculation in Egypt, Jordan and Israel

April 22, 2010 | 11:07 am


Two rocket explosions in Aqaba, Jordan, and in the Red Sea waters near the Israeli town of Eilat on Thursday prompted conflicting reports on where they were launched and who fired them.

No one has claimed responsibility, although Israeli media reports suggest the rockets were fired either from  Egypt's Sinai Peninsula or Jordan by a terrorist group targeting Eilat. Jordanian sources said the first rocket exploded in the Red Sea, and the second hit an empty warehouse in Aqaba (210 miles south of the capital, Amman), causing no injuries or deaths.

"A limited explosion took place in the early hours of the morning at a refrigeration warehouse at the northern edge of the city that caused minor damage," said Nabil Sharif, Jordan's minister of information.

Meanwhile, Egyptian sources quickly rebuffed claims that the rockets may have been launched from Sinai. "What was reported in the Israeli media is groundless and untrue," said Gen. Abdul Fattah Omar, undersecretary for the Egyptian parliament's defense committee.

"Egypt doesn’t allocate any of its military forces in Sinai," in accordance with a peace treaty with Israeli, he added, "and the existing police forces are not even capable of launching any rockets because they don’t have the proper platforms."

Omar believes if it was an attack carried out by a Palestinian group aided by the Sinai Bedouins against Israel, the group would have claimed responsibility by now. The incident increases security worries in the region. It comes one week after Israel urged its tourists to leave Sinai, saying it had intelligence of possible attempts to abduct some of its citizens, who frequently visit the peninsula to vacation.

In 2005, a Jordanian soldier was killed when four rockets launched from Jordan aiming for Israel missed their targets and instead hit Jordanian territories. The Israeli Ministry of Defense said it was investigating Thursday's explosions.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: A view of Eilat in Israel from Aqba, Jordan. Credit: Agence France-Presse