Israeli resort town attacked from Egypt's Sinai peninsula

Iron Dome defence system can intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Jerusalem, Israel Feb 09, 2017, 12.16 AM (IST)

A volley of rockets was fired from Egypt's Sinai peninsula late Wednesday at the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat, but without causing casualties, the Israeli army said.

"Some of these rockets were destroyed in flight by Iron Dome batteries," a spokeswoman said, referring to Israel's anti-missile interception system.

An official at Eilat town hall told Israeli public radio that three rockets had been intercepted and a fourth had exploded outside the town.

The Sinai is the theatre of fierce fighting between Egyptian security forces and so-called Sinai Province, a branch of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Sinai Province was set up in 2011, ostensibly to attack Israel by firing rockets across the 240-kilometre (149-mile) border or sabotaging a gas pipeline that runs between Egypt and Israel.

But most of the fighting, by far, has been with Egyptian government forces and attacks on Israel have been relatively rare.

Jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 unleashed a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

In 2011, assailants who came from the Sinai killed eight Israelis in a triple ambush north of Eilat. Pursuing Israeli forces killed seven attackers and five Egyptian police.

In 2013, four jihadists were killed by an Egyptian air strike as they were about to fire a rocket at Israel, according to the Egyptian military.

And in 2014, two patrolling Israeli soldiers were wounded by unidentified men who fired an anti-tank weapon from the Sinai during an attempted drug-smuggling operation, according to the Israeli military.

In 2015, rockets fired from Sinai landed in southern Israel, but did not cause any casualties. The Sinai Province group claimed responsibility.