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Israel intercepts rocket headed toward resort city

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted a rocket that was fired from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and headed for the southern resort city of Eilat early Tuesday, according to the Israeli military, the first time the military shield has been used to protect the city.

The rocket attack came at the height of the summer vacation season, when the city is packed with Israeli and foreign tourists. Witnesses told the Israeli news media that sirens went off about 1 a.m., and that booms were heard over the city as the rocket was intercepted.

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Islamic militants operating across the Egyptian border in the southern Sinai Peninsula have fired rockets a few times at Eilat in recent years. So far, they have all fallen in empty spaces in and around the city, causing no casualties.

An Islamic militant group calling itself Majlis Shura Al-Majahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt Al-Maqdis claimed credit for the attack, saying it was revenge for the killing of four of its fighters in northern Sinai on Friday, according to Israel Radio.

Some news reports from Egypt at the time said that the militants had been killed in an Israeli missile strike, possibly launched from a remotely piloted drone, and suggested that the strike had been carried out in coordination with Egypt.

The Israeli military and government have not confirmed or denied the reports, but Egypt has denied reports of Israeli attacks inside its territory.

An Iron Dome battery was deployed in Eilat last month against a background of rising tensions along the Israel-Egypt border.

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