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Middle East
Rockets strike Jordan and Israel
One killed and four injured as rocket believed to have been fired in Egypt hits Aqaba.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2010 14:39 GMT
A taxi driver was killed when the rocket hit his car
in the port city of Aqaba [AFP]

Rockets have hit Red Sea port cities in Jordan and Israel, leaving one man dead and four others wounded.

One rocket exploded in the street in front of the InterContinental Hotel in the Jordanian city of Aqaba on Monday morning, wounding five Jordanian men, one of whom later died of his wounds, the Amman government said.

No casualties were reported in the Israeli city of Eilat, where another rocket hit.

The Jordanian killed in Aqaba was identified as Subhi Yousef al-Alawneh, a taxi driver in his fifties.

"We saw the wreckage of a taxi which was burnt and fragmented metal scattered around the area that was cordoned off by police," Abdullah Yashin Rawashdehd, an Aqaba resident, told the Reuters news agency.

Ali Ayed, Jordan's information minister called the rocket attack a "terrorist and criminal act, which serves shady agendas, is strongly condemned".
  
"Jordan will always fight terrorism and terrorists," he said in a statement.

Three rockets also landed in the Red Sea on Monday: two in Jordanian waters and one in Israeli waters.

Rockets 'from Sinai'

An Israeli police official told the Reuters news agency that it was likely that all the rockets were fired from the Sinai, the source of an earlier salvo on Eilat in April, the first such attack in five years.

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"It's a little early to say, but it is reasonable to assume that it came from the southern area," Moshe Cohen, Eilat district police commander, told Israel Radio, referring to neighbouring Egypt.

An Egyptian investigation into the April attack was inconclusive and did not result in any arrests, Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland in Israel said.

"We can expect Israel to put more pressure on the Egyptians" after Monday's strike, she said.

But Egyptian and Jordanian sources each offered different claims about the source of the rocket fire.

An Egyptian security source in the southern Sinai told Al Jazeera the rockets had been fired from Jordan, but Nayef Qadai, Jordan's interior minister, told the AFP news agency that a "preliminary investigation showed that the rocket was fired from outside Jordanian territory".

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Aqaba, said the rockets appeared to have been aimed at Israel and the Jordanian government is "not interested in ruining ties" with Egypt should Sinai be determined as the source of the rocket fire.

But the death of one of its citizens will likely push Jordan to get to the bottom of the attack, a process that will probably involve close co-ordination with Israeli security services, she said.

Israel 'on edge'

Although the attack appeared unsophisticated, it followed a weekend of rocket fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip.

At least 31 people were injured in the explosion at the home of a Hamas commander

"The country is constantly on the edge," Al Jazeera's Rowland said. "You only need incidents like this to get people panicky."

The rocket barrage came hours after an early morning explosion devastated the house of a senior Hamas commander in Gaza, wounding at least 31 people, Hamas and medical workers in the Palestinian territory said.

The explosion struck the house of Alaa al-Danaf, a field commander of the Hamas military wing, in the Deir el-Balah refugee camp in southern Gaza, Palestinian security officials said.

At least one person was in critical condition, Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City.

A Hamas medical officer told Al Jazeera the explosion was caused by an Israeli rocket, but an Israeli army spokesman denied responsibility.

It was unclear if al-Danaf was killed in the blast, which occurred at a time of renewed cross-border violence between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army.

His body was not found in the house after the explosion, Johnston said, but Hamas said he had survived.

Retaliatory strikes

The explosion badly damaged 12 nearby houses in the refugee camp and rescue teams were digging through the rubble for survivors.

Earlier on Sunday, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, issued a strong warning to Hamas leaders in Gaza after a weekend of missile attacks on Israeli communities.

No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the violence, which caused damages, but no injuries.

A Hamas commander and rocket-maker was killed in an Israeli air strike at the weekend after a rocket fired from the enclave exploded in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Issa Batran, whose caravan was hit by a missile, was the first Hamas commander killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza since Israel wound up a three-week military offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers in January 2009.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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