Egyptian officials disputed on Thursday Israeli assessments showing that rockets which struck the city of Eilat were fired from Egypt’s Sinai desert.
An Egyptian security official in the southern Sinai, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Egyptian-Israeli border was “intensively secured”, and no one had detected a flash of light or sound on Wednesday.
No casualties or damage were reported after the rocket struck the Israeli resort town, police said, but the incident fueled Israeli worries over militant activity in the border area.
An Egyptian security source told Reuters in Cairo that forces were searching the area along the border but had not found any evidence indicating any rockets had been fired from the Sinai.
The head of Eilat police, Ron Gertner, told Israeli Army Radio that explosions were heard in Eilat soon after midnight. Police found the remains of one rocket in a construction site, about 400 meters from a residential area.
Asked if the rocket was fired from Sinai, Gertner said: “Based on our working assumptions and the range, yes.”
Officials in Israel have been worried that the Sinai has become a base for Islamist militants since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall last year.
“For a long while now we have been seeing that the Sinai peninsula is turning into a launching ground against the citizens of Israel, for terror,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the attack.
It was launched a day before the start of the Jewish Passover holiday, which commemorates the exodus of the biblical Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Eilat is expected to be full of vacationers during the week-long holiday.
The Israel-Egypt border had been relatively quiet since the two countries signed a peace agreement in 1979. But Israel says that since Mubarak was overthrown, Cairo has lost its grip on the Sinai and militants are exploiting the lawlessness.