Egyptian security source: ‘Sinai rocket launch had Egyptian help’
The following article is reprinted with permission from Ma’an News Agency, Bethlehem.
‘Sinai rocket launch had Egyptian help’
© Ma’an News Agency
August 4, 2010 21:37
Al-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Monday’s deadly rocket attack on Jordan and Israel was launched by a Palestinian faction with the help of Egyptian operatives, security officials in the Sinai believe.
An Egyptian security source told Ma’an that the faction launched seven Grad-grade rockets toward the Red Sea resort cities of Eilat and Aqaba.
Government officials said Wednesday that the explosives were loaded onto two vehicles and launched from the Egyptian town of Taba. One of the rockets, the source added, landed on the Egyptian side of the border near a building block containing security offices in Taba.
Following the launch, the vehicles returned to the Egyptian side of Rafah and disappeared, the source added.
The security source said intelligence officials were aware that factions had come to possess weapons with an 18-kilometer range at least four months ago.
As early as June, the official said, top-level security meetings were held in Cairo, where the possibility of a Palestinian cell in the northern Sinai was addressed, “but did not go anywhere.”
The revelations stand in contrast to Egypt’s initial denials.
On Monday, security officials told Ma’an that Egyptian forces carried out extensive searches in Taba, which also borders Eilat, finding no suspicious activity or “extremist operatives.”
Cairo backtracked Wednesday, however, telling the official Egyptian newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that Palestinian factions were behind the launch of five projectiles from the Sinai. The report quoted a security source saying Monday’s attack was carried out by Palestinian factions controlled by Hamas in Gaza.
The newspaper quoted a source saying “Egypt will not accept in any way its lands being used by any party to harm Egyptian interests” and confirmed that despite earlier denials, evidence indicated that the rockets were launched from the Egyptian peninsula.
The projectiles landed on both sides of the Red Sea, in the Israeli town of Eilat and in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, where one Jordanian man was killed and several others were reported injured.
An Israeli report said two of the projectiles, originally said to have landed in the Red Sea, landed in the salt flats area near the town.
Speaking at a news conference in Eilat, Southern District Police Commander Yohanan Danino told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that recent events had placed the southern resort town on the list of areas threatened by terror.
The Egyptian news site Al-Youm As-Subeh quoted another security source who accused the Palestinian political party Hamas of involvement in the incident, adding that “members of the movement had recently infiltrated through the tunnels to fire the rockets.”
The source went on to accuse Hamas of wishing to divert attention to Egypt and “raise doubts” about it to the international community.