CAIRO // The deadly rocket attacks on Israel and Jordan's Red Sea ports were carried out by the militant Palestinian Hamas group operating from Egypt, an Egyptian official said Wednesday after days of denials. Immediately after a barrage of rockets crashed into the sea near Israel's Eilat resort town and killed a taxi driver in Jordan's Aqaba port, Egyptian officials had strongly denied the attack had come from Egypt. The security official said Hamas had fired seven rockets, including one which misfired and left debris near a security facility in the town of Taba. The attackers fired Soviet-style Grad rockets of the type used by militants in Lebanon and Gaza, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Hamas denied the Egyptian accusations and said it had no plans to start operating outside of the occupied territories. "We don't accept this accusation," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. The incident, Abu Zuhri said, "was fabricated by the Zionist occupation in order to create an atmosphere of chaos in the region." "Hamas' battle was and remains against the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine," he said. The rockets hit a narrow area of the Red Coast where the Israeli and Jordanian ports are located side by side. One person was killed and four people wounded, all in Aqaba. It was the second such attack this year, after a similar volley in April that Israel also said was fired from Egypt. Aqaba and Eilat are more than 300km from Hamas' stronghold in the Gaza Strip. Egypt's official media indicated that Egypt will retaliate to Hamas' attacks in "a powerful and a fierce" way. The state-run Al Gomhouriar, which is close to the ruling party, ran a front page editorial headlined read: "Hamas and its ingratitude." "Hamas insists on harming Egypt's interests," the editoral read. "It seems that from now on, Egypt will be its enemy and Hamas will do everything it can to destabilize security in our lands." Egypt has brokered several rounds of talks between Palestinian factions, including Hamas and is also a key mediator between the militant organization and Israel, especially over exchanging Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit. * Associated Press