Jihadists claim Sinai rocket fire on Israel’s Eilat resort

Updated 18 April 2013
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Jihadists claim Sinai rocket fire on Israel’s Eilat resort

JERUSALEM: At least two Grad rockets fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula exploded in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on Wednesday, causing no casualties, in an attack claimed by a jihadist group.
It was the first rocket attack on the southern resort city in eight months, with the Israeli army saying they were fired from the Egyptian Sinai, although there was no immediate confirmation from Cairo where a senior military official said troops were “investigating” the incident.
As news of the rocket fire emerged, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is in London for the funeral of Britain’s Margaret Thatcher — held a telephone consultation with the security establishment on “how to react,” his office said.
Several hours later, a group called the Mujahedeen Shoura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had “managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets” without saying where they were fired from.
The attack took place as Palestinians were marking Prisoners’ Day in solidarity with the thousands of inmates held by Israel, with the group saying the rockets were a “response to the continued suffering of the downtrodden prisoners in Israeli jails.”
The rockets struck shortly after 9 a.m. (0600 GMT), both landing inside the city but without causing injuries, Israeli police said.
“We’ve found two explosion sites in the city, we’ve also closed off the airport as a precaution,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, later saying that Eilat’s tiny international airport had been reopened.
One rocket hit a construction site in the Shahamon neighborhood, while the second struck an open area close to the Jordan border, just east of the main hotel strip, local residents said.
At the start of April, fears of an imminent rocket attack from Sinai prompted the military to move a battery of Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system to the Eilat area, a defense official confirmed on Wednesday.
“There were warnings of possible firings, and they decided to shift the system to there,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But an Israeli security source said the system did not engage to intercept the rockets.
“Due to operational circumstances, the battery located in the area did not intercept the incoming rockets,” the source said, without elaborating.
Israeli media reports also said two rockets had landed in the nearby Jordanian resort of Aqaba, in reports denied by Amman.
“All military and security services in Aqaba have confirmed that nothing happened in Aqaba. It was only on the other side,” Amer Sartawi, spokesman for Jordan’s Public Security Department, told AFP.
At least two Aqaba residents contacted by AFP said they were unaware of any rockets landing in the city.
Eilat lies on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow stretch of water bordered on one side by the Sinai and the other by Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Last April, a rocket fired from Sinai hit Eilat but caused no casualties, with police finding another unexploded rocket near the city days later.
In August, another two rockets rocked Eilat, again injuring no-one.
That attack was claimed by another Salafist group called Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis which said it had fired two Grad rockets at the city.
Since the collapse of the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Israel’s border with Sinai has seen multiple security incidents, with militants using the lawless peninsula to stage attacks on the Jewish state.
The most serious incident was in August 2011, when gunmen infiltrated southern Israel and staged a series of ambushes that killed eight Israelis.
Over the past few years, there has been intermittent rocket fire on Eilat from Sinai.
So far, no-one has been injured but in August 2010, one landed in Aqaba, killing a taxi driver.


Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Updated 21 June 2018
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Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

  • Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
  • “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”

CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.

Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.