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Middle East

Israel says it intercepted rocket over Eilat

Israeli army confirms its Iron Dome defence system intercepts rocket, as armed group claims responsibility for attack.

Last Modified: 13 Aug 2013 15:16
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Israel has intercepted and destroyed a rocket fired from Egyptian territory at the Red Sea town of Eilat overnight, Israeli public radio has said.

An army spokeswoman on Tuesday confirmed the attempted rocket attack and its interception by an Iron Dome defence system near Eilat, but did not say where the rocket originated.

A group of fighters said earlier that they had fired a Grad rocket on Eilat in retaliation for an alleged Israeli air raid on Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

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The Mujahideen Shura Council, an armed al-Qaeda-linked group, said in a statement published on an online forum that its fighters fired the rocket at 1:00am local time (23:00 GMT Monday).

The rocket, fired from the Sinai, was "a quick response to the last crime by the Jews after one of their drones bombed the Sinai peninsula killing four mujahideen" on Friday.

Another armed group, Egypt's Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which has claimed allegiance to al-Qaeda, has blamed Israel for the Friday strike.

The group accused the Egyptian army of coordinating the attack with Israel, and threatened more strikes against the Jewish state.

"How can the Egyptian army allow the Zionist unmanned planes to cross into Egyptian territory," the statement asked.

Egypt's military has denied the claim.

"There is no truth whatsoever to any Israeli strikes inside Egyptian territory and the claim that there is Egyptian and Israeli coordination on the matter is utterly baseless," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement on Friday.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said: "The Sinai has been quite problematic over the last few years, and there has been a particular upsurge in violence since the removal of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi."

"We have seen the Egyptian military conducting operations there, and they have said they have killed 17 armed fighters."

Officials told AFP news agency that the strike came from the Egyptian military, as part of their campaign to curtail a surge in violence and rein in militant activity in the lawless Sinai.

Witnesses said Egyptian military helicopters hovered above the site after the blasts.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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