A rocket fired from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula exploded overnight in the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat early on Wednesday, but caused no injuries or damage, a senior police official said.
“This rocket, which was fired from Egypt, exploded in the town but did not cause any injuries or damage,” Eilat District police chief Ron Gertner told Israel’s army radio.
Gertner said the incident occurred shortly after midnight (2100 GMT) when a Grad rocket hit a construction site in the city, about 300 meters from a block of flats.
In all three loud blasts rocked the city, prompting hundreds of worried people to ring the emergency police number, according to AFP.
“Eilat residents heard three explosions in the night, but for the moment we have only found one rocket,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. Police were conducting searches to see if anything else had hit the town.
The Israeli army confirmed details of the incident.
“This rocket exploded in the town but there were no victims or damage,” a military spokeswoman said.
The blast occurred as thousands of Israeli and foreign tourists descended on the resort town to celebrate the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday.
It was the first such firing since the collapse of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Since he was toppled, a wave of unrest has swept the restive Sinai Peninsula which borders on Israel.
To fend of infiltration, Israel has been building a fence along the southern border which it hopes to complete by the end of 2012. When it is finished, the barrier will run most of the 266 km (165 miles) from Eilat on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba up to the already-closed Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean, according to Reuters.
In August 2011, a group of gunmen from the Sinai sneaked across the border and carried out a series of deadly shooting ambushes just north of Eilat, killing eight Israelis.
In the ensuing search for the gunmen, Israeli troops shot dead six Egyptian police officers along the border, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
A year earlier, several rockets fired from the Sinai, which were apparently aimed at Eilat, slammed into the nearby Jordanian port of Aqaba, killing one person and wounding five others.
A similar attack occurred in April 2011 when two military-grade rockets struck Aqaba, one hitting an empty warehouse and the other landing in the Red Sea near the Israeli border.
And in August 2005, three Katyusha rockets were fired at Aqaba in an attack claimed by a group linked to al-Qaeda.
The two Red Sea ports lie on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow stretch of water bordered on one side by the Sinai and the other by Saudi Arabia and Jordan.