The missile launcher destroyed by two rockets fired by an Israeli drone at Ajarah in North Sinai Friday, Aug. 9 was capable of firing 4 heavy Iranian-made M-75 missiles known as Fajr-5, which Hamas possesses, but not Sinai Salafists
Its 75-kilometer range covers Tel Aviv from Gaza Strip or Eilat from inland Sinai. The five terrorists killed in the drone strike were prevented from launching these rockets against Eilat airport Thursday by a tip-off from Egyptian intelligence to Israel. The Fajr-5 proved its high accuracy by leveling a building in the central Israeli town of Rishon Lezion on Nov. 20, 2012.
Since then, Hamas has upgraded the Fajar-5’s performance with an integrated radar system. It is carried by an Iranian made vehicle. debkafile’s military sources have not yet established whether Hamas handed the Iranian weapon over to the Salafist Bedouin acting in concert with al Qaeda in Sinai before the Egyptian army placed the Gaza Strip under siege in early July, or smuggled it across more recently. Even though Egyptian forces destroyed many of the Sinai-Gaza smuggling tunnels ahead of their counter-terror operation in Sinai, they may have missed a couple.
The Iranian rocket, which is 10 meters long, 333mm diameter and weighs 9 tons, is based on a 302mm Chinese rocket sold to Tehran in the 1990s and reproduced as Fajr-5. To move it through the smuggling tunnels, the missile would have had to be broken down into 8-10 sections and then reassembled at the other end, a function only Hamas is qualified to perform. It is also possible that a terrorist cell managed to infiltrate Sinai in recent days and collected the Fajr missile system from Hamas, which is trained in its operation..
Neither Egypt nor Israel has provided any clues to the identities of the five dead terrorists.
In either case, Hamas cooperation was clearly forthcoming. That the Palestinian terrorist group ruling the Gaza Strip is supplying advanced weapons to Sinai Salafists is a strategic development of the highest order indicating its resolve to fight the military regime headed by Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisis in Cairo and an emerging coalition between Hamas, al Qaeda in Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood ousted from power in Egypt and Iran.
Two years ago, Israel refrained from pointing the finger at Teheran when missiles made in Iran and supplied to terrorists were first launched against Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion. Israel remains silent when they are pointed at Eilat.
debkafile reported Friday:
Intelligence sharing and military cooperation between Egypt and Israel foiled a terrorist missile attack from Sinai on Eilat Thursday, Aug. 8, say foreign sources. Egyptian security officials reported that an Israeli drone fired a missile in the northern Sinai peninsula, killing five Islamic militants and destroying one or more launchers. Egyptian military helicopters circled over head. The launcher, said the officials, was rigged for firing at targets in Israel from the vicinity of Egyptian Rafah in northern Sinai.
Eilat has come under rocket fire from Sinai in the past.
The Israeli military has refused to comment on the report. debkafile’s military sources note that it is not absolutely clear that the Israeli air force was responsible for the attack on the terrorists’ missile squad. It may have been an Egyptian operation in the course of its counter-terrorism campaign ongoing in Sinai and the Egyptian command preferred not to admit it took place on the Muslim Eid al Fitr festival.
According to those sources, six terrorists were killed, not five as reported.
The Israeli military has refused to comment on the incident. debkafile’s military sources say it is not absolutely clear that the Israeli air force was responsible for the missile attack on the terrorists’ missile squad. It may have been an Egyptian operation in the course of its counter-terrorism campaign ongoing in Sinai, to which the Egyptian command preferred not to own up because it occurred on the Eid al Fitr festival.
According to those sources, six terrorists were killed, not five as reported, at a point south of Egyptian Rafah not from the Egyptian-Gazan border. The terrorist group was apparently in flight from a part of the Egyptian-Israeli border opposite Eilat from where they had planned to strike Israel’s southernmost airport Thursday night. Their route 230 km north toward the Gaza border indicated they planned to cross over and reach safety in the Palestinian Hamas-ruled enclave.
debkafile’s military sources report further that the military-intelligence cooperation in force between Israel and Egypt in the war against Salafist, al Qaeda and Hamas jihadis broke surface Friday when an Egyptian security official told The Associated Press that intelligence, suggesting terrorists planned to fire missiles Friday at Israel as well as locations in northern Sinai and the Suez Canal, was passed by Egypt to Israel. Eilat airport was closed for two hours Thursday night in response to the tip-off. The official also said that Egyptian authorities planned to start air patrols Thursday night over the Naqab desert in the Egyptian Sinai, where Islamist terrorists have hideouts.
Egyptian airports in the Sinai operated normally into Thursday night despite the warning, including those in the resort cities of Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, said Gad el-Karim Nasr, the head of state-owned Egyptian Airports Co. Taba is only 10 kilometers from Eilat.