Rocket hits Eilat, said launched from Jordan

A Katyusha rocket landed near the airport in Eilat on Friday and at least two rockets shook the nearby Jordanian port of Aqaba near a U.S. Navy ship, which was not damaged in the attack. Police said the rocket that hit Eilat was apparently fired from Jordan. A Jordanian soldier was killed in Aqaba, a Jordanian security official said. An Israeli taxi driver was lightly wounded in the Eilat attack. Investigators do not yet know who is responsible for the attack, but recent intelligence information points to al-Qaida. The three Katyusha rockets, weapons routinely used by Palestinian militants and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in attacks against Israel, were fired from a warehouse in Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba, which was rented this week by four people holding Egyptian and Iraqi nationalities, Jordan’s state-run Petra news agency reported citing preliminary investigations. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the Eilat attack appeared to be intentional. A security official said it was not clear whether Eilat or two U.S. Navy vessels in Jordan were the true target of the rocket attack. „Today’s incident is apparently a missile launch aimed to strike both on the Israeli side and on the Jordanian side,” Mofaz said, adding he was sure the Jordanians would do their best to prevent similar incidents. Mofaz said he was in Jordan last week and spoke to King Abdullah about security cooperation. He said Israel had issued a travel warning for Jordan based on intelligence information that al-Qaida was planning to attack Israeli targets. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV said an interrogation of al-Qaida activists captured recently in Jordan indicated that they planned to launch rockets at Eilat from Jordan. Katyusha rockets were last fired at Eilat from Jordan in 1968. Aqaba and Eilat are about 15 kilometers apart and located on either side of the Jordan-Israeli border at the northern end of the Red Sea, close to the Sinai Peninsula. The rocket created a small crater in the road, about 15 meters from the airport fence, said a local police commander, Avi Azulin. The rocket missed the U.S. ship at Aqaba and hit a warehouse instead, U.S. military officials said. Two U.S. Navy vessels had been on a joint training exercise with the Jordanian navy, and left the area a short time after the attack. At least one blast was heard at about 9 A.M. local time near Aqaba, a Red Sea port 350 kilometers south of the Jordanian capital Amman, according to an official at the Aqaba Port Authority. Al-Jazeera said the explosion occurred near Port 7, while Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV said a U.S. naval ship was in the vicinity of the blast. It was unclear what the source of the blast was or if there were any damages. If al-Qaida is involved in the Eilat attack, it would be the second recent instance of Al-Qaida militants using Mideast countries as bases from which to attack Israeli targets. Earlier this month, Israeli security sources said Turkish police had detained a suspected al-Qaida militant from Syria who they believe was organizing an attack on Israeli targets in Turkey. BPI-info