Rocket Fire on Southern Israel 'Linked to Egypt Vote'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The two rockets, apparently fired from Sinai, which landed near towns in the deep south of Israel were linked to the Egyptian presidential election, a senior Israeli security source told AFP on Sunday.
"The rockets fired at Israel over the weekend were a one-off and carried out by those who wanted to influence the Egyptian presidential election," he said referring to militant groups in the Sinai.
Two Grad rockets fired from Sinai hit near towns and villages in Israel's deep south on Saturday morning, Israel police said, with one landing near Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert, and a second landing near Ovda in the Arava desert, near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat.
Unnamed defense officials quoted by Israel's Haaretz newspaper on Sunday claimed Bedouin militants were behind the rocket fire under orders from Gaza's Hamas rulers, following a request from the Muslim Brotherhood.
But senior defense ministry official Amos Gilad ruled out any involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate Mohammed Mursi is fighting for the Egyptian leadership as the country votes in a presidential run-off this weekend.
"The Muslim Brotherhood wants to change the face of the Middle East and doesn't get involved in attacks," he told Israel's army radio.
"We want to preserve peaceful relations with Egypt. It is in our interest and also in theirs."
Israel was still not sure who was responsible for the rocket fire but was likely to know soon, Gilad said.
"Many extremist elements operate in Sinai with the support of Iran and Hezbollah, and we are investigating who was behind the firing," he said.
"Several groups allied with several organizations operate within Sinai and I'm sure that within a short time we will know who is responsible."
Israeli officials were mostly silent on the weekend rocket fire which was widely seen as an attempt to provoke a reaction which would impact on the voting in Egypt.
"No one has any doubts about the rationale: to provoke an Israeli reaction, to heat up the border and to embarrass the military regime in Egypt -- all of which was done in an attempt to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood in the presidential elections in Egypt," said the Israel HaYom newspaper.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Islamist movement had nothing to do with the rocket fire.
"The accusation about Hamas being involved in firing of Grad rockets is a failed Israeli attempt to mix the issues," he said in a statement. "It is not true."
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said one rocket landed 500m from Mitzpe Ramon, a Negev desert town of some 5,000 people which lies 70 km (43 miles) south of Beersheva and 25 km (15 miles) from the Egyptian border.
The second landed "relatively near" to a residential area in the Ovda area, which lies 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border, and some 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Eilat, he told AFP on Sunday.
Nearby is Ovda airfield, a very small international airport which is used for civilian and military flights.
"Both rockets were 122mm Grad rockets. We believe it is the same terror cell which was behind it," Rosenfeld said. The Israeli military said it had opened an investigation.
In early April, a Grad rocket exploded near Eilat without causing casualties, and another unexploded rocket was later found in the same area in the first rocket fire since the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Since then, a wave of unrest has swept the restive Sinai Peninsula which borders on Israel.
In August 2011, a group of gunmen from the Sinai sneaked across the border and carried out a series of ambushes north of Eilat, killing eight Israelis.
A year earlier, several rockets fired from the Sinai, apparently aimed at Eilat, slammed into the nearby Jordanian port of Aqaba, killing one person and wounding five others.