JERUSALEM, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military shot down a rocket fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula toward the Israeli southern city of Eilat overnight Tuesday, local media reported.
"An Iron Dome battery identified a launch and successfully intercepted a rocket over Eilat," an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokeswoman confirmed to Xinhua, giving no further details.
Air raid sirens wailed in Eilat, a popular Red Sea resort, shortly before 1:00 a.m. Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday). Local residents and vacationers reported hearing powerful blasts afterwards. No deaths or damage were reported, though a number of people were treated for shock and a woman had a pelvis fracture.
"I heard a strange sound in the sky, ... and saw two missiles colliding," Eilat resident Yotam Marciano told the Yisrael Hayom daily.
It remained unclear whether any additional rockets fell in the vicinity. Security forces were searching for the exploded rocket's remains and further landing sites, the Ynet news site said.
While rockets have landed in and near Eilat several times in recent years, Tuesday's incident marked the first time the Iron Dome system, deployed in the city last month, had intercepted a rocket fired toward the city. The attack came days after an alleged Israeli drone strike which killed four Sinai militants about to launch missiles at Israeli targets.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for firing several Grad-type missiles toward Eilat early Tuesday, saying it was trying to revenge the drone strike targeting its members, Israel's Channel 10 Television reported.
"This was a response to the latest crimes by the Jews, who used a drone to attack and kill four of our fighters in Sinai. The fighters managed to bomb occupied Um Rashrash (as Eilat is known in Arabic) with Grad missiles, sowing fear among the criminal Jews and forcing them into bomb shelters," The Jerusalem Post cited a statement by the group as saying.
Unnamed Egyptian security sources told media that Israel carried out a drone strike Friday in Rafah near the Israeli- Egyptian border in cooperation with Egyptian authorities, but an Egyptian military spokesman swiftly denied the reports and said Egyptian forces killed the militants.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon underscored that Israel "respects Egypt's full sovereignty" and is aware of its increased efforts to combat militants in the Sinai.
"The Egyptian army is fighting first and foremost to protect Egyptian civilians... We will not allow rumors and speculation ... to harm the peace treaty between the two nations," he said.
Last Thursday, the Israeli military issued a rare instruction to shut down the Eilat Airport, with incoming and outgoing flights suspended for two hours, following a security assessment.
Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted an Egyptian security source as saying the closure came after Egyptian intelligence alerted their Israeli counterparts that Sinai-based militants were plotting to target Israel with shoulder-launched missiles with a range of 70 km.
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