Stephen Farrell, Isabel Kershner
The New York Times
August 2, 2010 - 12:00am

A rocket that was probably aimed at the southern Israeli resort of Eilat slammed into the neighboring Jordanian resort of Aqaba on Monday, Jordanian and Israeli officials said.

Israeli police inspected the site where a rocket landed on the outskirts of the Red Sea resort Eilat.

Jordan’s information minister, Ali Ayed, said one rocket struck a main street in Aqaba, killing one person and injuring four, all of whom were Jordanian.

“Around 7:45 a.m. a Grad missile came from outside the kingdom,” Mr. Ayed said. “It is premature to make any conclusions at the moment about where it came from because it is under investigation.”

The Israeli police and military said that four or five explosions were heard in the Eilat area at around 8 o’clock on Monday morning. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the blasts were caused by rockets fired in the direction of the Israeli city. There were no reports of injuries or damage on the Israeli side. Security forces were searching the area to determine whether the other rockets had fallen on the outskirts of the city or in the sea.

Eilat sits on the Gulf of Aqaba close to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

A military spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity under army rules, said the Israeli military was in contact with militaries of Jordan and Egypt.

In a similar incident in April, rockets were fired toward Eilat and Aqaba. One hit a Jordanian warehouse. Israel determined that those rockets had been fired from Egyptian territory.

In Aqaba, black uniformed security forces set up checkpoints and a helicopter circled overhead.

A Polish tourist, Piotr Dudojc, said that he had been sleeping on the roof of a hotel in Aqaba when he was awakened by two explosions.

“It was about 8 a.m. but I’m not sure because I didn’t check the time. I looked out at the city and I saw the smoke and took two photographs. I think it was near the InterContinental Hotel.”

He added: “I went to have a look but I couldn’t see anything because of all the soldiers and police.”

At the sand-colored InterContinental Aqaba, Jordanian security forces armed with automatic weapons sealed off King Hussein Bin Talal Street with black and yellow tape as fire department vehicles and ambulances arrived. There was no damage to the hotel visible from the road. But outside, the street was littered with glass next to two cars, one a Jordanian taxi with its rear fender partially dislodged and the trunk open.

Maysa Liswi, 45, an interpreter, was staying in the InterContinental while attending a six-day conference at which, she said, American instructors were training Jordanians in how to detect radioactive cargo arriving at the port.

“We heard something very loud,” said Ms. Liswi, who is from the capital, Amman. “We didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a truck explosion.”

She continued: “We went up in the balcony. We saw people running from the street. We asked the police and they said it was a missile from Sinai.”

There was no official confirmation that the rocket had been fired from Sinai.

Hotel guests appeared to carry on as usual, Ms. Liswi said, though the conference she was attending was canceled.

Sarhan Budair, an Arab citizen of Israel from Kufr Kassem, was staying at the Mövenpick Hotel in Aqaba.

He said: “We heard the news from our family back home. They told us that rockets were fired at Eilat and Aqaba. They also told us that some are dead and some are injured. We didn’t expect this to happen. We are surprised. We are hoping it will end well. We are not scared and we are not going back home.”


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