Missiles on Eilat a Combined Failure of Israel and Egypt

ANALYSIS

The rockets that landed on Eilat yesterday were not a surprise. There was no warning as to the exact moment when they would be launched, but there was definitely a significant amount of intelligence information that the Jihadist organizations that work out of Gaza and in Sinai intended to act.

Despite the fact that the Israeli intelligence echelons, which maintain good ties with Cairo, transferred a lot of information to its counterparts in Cairo about the Salafists’ plans to launch missiles into Israel and Jordan, Cairo did nothing to stop them.

But yesterday’s incident was a failure for Israel as well. The Iron Dome anti-missile battery that was brought to the city expressly to shoot down missiles that intelligence agencies were aware might fall, detected the missiles, triggered the air raid sirens, but that was it. For some reason, it did not intercept the rockets.

An army official’s response in which he tried to explain that Israel purposely restrained its reaction to the missile is groundless. They have to admit:  Something bad happened to the system, which was found to be in full working order during tests conducted yesterday after the incident. Nevertheless, the Grad missile that was launched towards homes in the city of Eilat should have been intercepted yesterday, and it was not.

The IDF has begun investigating the incident. It’s safe to assume it will find the reason for the malfunction and fix it.

But the entire incident indicates how problematic the situation on the Israel-Egypt border is. Israel knows about plans for attacks by terror groups operating in Sinai, and could have targeted them before they carried out their plans. But Israel avoids all military activity in Sinai, and the Egyptians, who receive the information that the Israelis accumulate and transmit, are dong nothing.

The attack yesterday was carried out by an organization with which Israel is very familiar. The IDF has targeted heads of this organization in Gaza. In recent weeks, after Operation Pillar of Defense, and the increased hostilities in Yehudah and Shomron, extremist Muslims are trying to act against Israel. First they tried to do it from Gaza. Among other things, they fired missiles during President Obama’s visit.

But after Hamas began arresting them, they desisted. Yesterday, they decided that if Hamas was preventing them from operating out of Gaza, they would do it from Sinai. They acted upon their decision; b’chasdei Shamayim, the rockets landed as they did, with no damage or casualties. But it could have been a very different outcome.

Israel is in a serious bind vis-à-vis Egypt, which is trying not only to deny that the rockets were launched from its territory, but is also doing nothing to stop the launchers. And Israel will have to clarify this issue with Cairo in the dialogue that is taking place between the two sides. More intensive American intervention will also be necessary to force the Egyptians to do a lot more than they are doing today, because those who fire today at Eilat will be capable of using anti-aircraft missiles to target planes full of passengers, chalilah, from the exact same place. Putting an immediate stop to this is vital.

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