Rocket attacks on Israel and Jordan highlight how Hamas could use Sinai
Rocket attacks against Israeli and Jordanian resort towns on the Red Sea are believed to have come from Egypt's Sinai, raising fresh concerns about militant activity – possibly including Hamas – there.
Tel Aviv, Israel
A salvo of at least five rockets, believed to have been fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, hit the Red Sea border area between Jordan and Israel on Monday morning. Three of the Katyusha rockets fell on the Israeli coastal resort area of Eilat, while the others hit outside the Intercontinental Hotel in the Jordanian resort city of Aqaba, killing one Jordanian and wounding at least three others.Skip to next paragraph
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This was the second attack on the area believed to come from Sinai in less than four months, and it highlights ongoing concern about the extent of Egypt's control over suspected militant activity in that region.
In the past, such concerns have focused on global Islamist groups believed to be operating there with the help of local Bedouins. But with the rise of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, concern is growing in Israel that the Palestinian Islamist movement – an offshoot of Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood – is seeking to expand its militant infrastructure into Sinai.
Egypt denied that Monday's rockets were fired from Sinai, citing "heavy security" in the area. But Jordanian Minister of Information Ali Ayed told the Monitor that authorities in Amman are "very certain" the rockets were fired from outside Jordan, though he declined to speculate from where or by whom.
According to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF and Israeli police are investigating the attack in Eilat and trying to determine its source. But analysts say that neither Jordan nor Israel is likely to call Egypt to task publicly over the rocket attacks.
"The Israeli government isn't going to come out and embarrass the Egyptians," says Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University. "It’s a general problem of Egypt in decline, the end of the Mubarak era."
How Hamas could use the Sinai to attack Israel
Israel shares a border with Egypt along the Sinai Peninsula that has long enabled local Bedouins to smuggle drugs, African migrants, and prostitutes. The Bedouin are also believed to have helped global Islamist groups and Hamas smuggle weapons mainly from the Gaza Strip into Sinai. In April, Egypt sentenced 26 alleged members of a Hezbollah spy cell on charges that included plotting attacks on tourist sites and smuggling weapons to Islamist Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.