Israel’s prime minister warned that Egypt’s Sinai desert is becoming a “terror zone” and vowed to strike at militants there after a rocket fired from the area hit a southern Israeli resort town.
The tough talk,however,was tempered by Israel’s desire not to disturb the already fraught relationship with Egypt. Israeli officials acknowledged their options are limited as the new government in Egypt one of Israel’s few allies in the Arab world tries to secure its sovereignty over the mountainous Sinai Peninsula.
Thursday’ rocket attack,the first on Eilat in nearly two years,raised new Israeli concerns about militant activity in Sinai,particularly since the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime last year.
Israeli security officials have repeatedly warned of a power vacuum in Egypt and say that Islamic militants,including al-Qaeda,have stepped up their activity in Sinai and are now active on Israel’s doorstep.
“We are seeing now with Eilat that the Sinai Peninsula is turning into a terror zone,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will strike at those who attack us. There can be no immunity for terrorism; it must be fought and we are doing so.”
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak threatened to “strike those responsible for firing (the Grad rocket) at Eilat.”
No injuries were reported in the overnight strike against Eilat,a normally tranquil Red Sea vacation spot that is set to welcome thousands of visitors this weekend for the Passover holiday.