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Rockets Fired on Israel Were Launched From Sinai

Sunday, 17 Jun 2012 09:44 AM

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military is concerned that rocket fire from the Sinai Peninsula will increase as the Egyptian presidential elections come to a close.

A senior defense official said Sunday that Israel had not yet confirmed the identity of the terror cell that launched two rockets into southern Israel on Friday night - one near Uvda and the other near Mitzpe Ramon.

The rockets were both identified as 122 mm Katyushas which have a range of 50 km with a 30 kilogram explosive warhead. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had originally looked into the possibility that the rockets were fired from Jordan but by Sunday morning had ruled out that possibility.

"This is a sensitive time for Egypt and we are prepared for the possibility that there will be a further escalation from the Sinai," a senior defense official said on Sunday.

The fear within the defense establishment is that terrorist organizations which operate in the Sinai will increase their attacks against Israel to get it to respond and thereby become an issue within Egypt's ongoing presidential elections between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

For this reason, the government has toned down its response to the latest rocket attacks. "Israel must not interfere in the elections, not openly and not secretly," top defense official Amos Gilad said Sunday morning.

Israel has long warned of growing Bedouin involvement in terrorism in the Sinai, mostly as a proxy for Gaza-based terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Last August, for example, the terrorists who carried out the series of attacks that killed eight Israelis near the Netafim Crossing were later identified as Egyptian Bedouin. The IDF suspects that they were hired by the Popular Resistance Committees - an offshoot of Hamas - to carry out the attacks on its behalf.

In the meantime, the IDF is considering hooking up the city of Eilat to early-warning systems that would alert residents of incoming rocket attacks. Last month, The Jerusalem Post revealed that the IDF was preparing a launch site for the Iron Dome rocket-defense system near Eilat ahead of the possibility that the system will be deployed there in the future.

The IDF operates four Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy an additional two within the coming year.

The Iron Dome system has intercepted over 90 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip since the first interception in April 2011. IDF plans call for the deployment of 13-14 batteries to effectively defend critical infrastructure and population centers from short-range rockets in Gaza and Lebanon.

The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 kilometers. Each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.

The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and decide not to intercept it if it is slated to hit an open area. Each interceptor costs between $50,000 and 100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military is concerned that rocket fire from the Sinai Peninsula will increase as the Egyptian presidential elections come to a close.
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2012-44-17
Sunday, 17 Jun 2012 09:44 AM
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