• Israel intercepts Sinai rocket

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    Israel intercepted and destroyed a rocket fired from Egyptian territory at the Red Sea town of Eilat overnight, Israeli public radio said Tuesday.

    A group of jihadist fighters said earlier they had fired a Grad rocket on Eilat in retaliation for an alleged Israeli air raid.

    An army spokeswoman confirmed the attempted rocket attack and its interception by an Iron Dome battery near Eilat to Agence France-Presse, but did not say where the rocket originated.

    The Mujahideen Shura Council, an armed Al-Qaeda-linked group, said in a statement published on a jihadist forum its fighters fired the rocket at about 1 am (Tuesday in Manila.)

    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 jihadist 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.

    Officials told Agence France-Presse 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.

    Militants based mainly in north Sinai near Israel’s border have escalated attacks on security forces and other targets since July 3, when the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and installed a new government in Cairo.

    But the army has been reluctant to confront the militants inside towns in order not to provoke the tight-knit tribes, military sources say.

    The army said it had killed nearly 70 “terrorists” since Morsi’s ouster. AFP

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