A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 23, 2010

Missile from Nowhere Hits Jordanian Warehouse: Belated Comments

I held off this story yesterday because it wasn't at all clear what actually happened. It's still as muddy, but I guess I shouldn't ignore it forever. Yesterday something — first reports said a mysterious explosion, later ones said a Russian-designed Grad missile — hit a warehouse in the Jordanian port of ‘Aqaba. Israeli reports suggested it was aimed at Israel's port/resort of Eilat, which adjoins ‘Aqaba on the West. Jordan and Egypt promptly denied that it had been fired from their territory. (Some early Israeli reports claimed it was fired from Sinai.)

It's still pretty hard to determine the facts here. Some reports keep repeating that the Jordanians first identified it as a Katyusha but then as a Grad. But the Grad is essentially a Katyusha, a multiple-launched, pretty unguided artillery rocket. They are notoriously inaccurate, so aiming at Eilat but hitting ‘Aqaba is nost in the slightest unlikely. But where was it fired from?

If it's really a Grad, it couldn't reach either Eilat or ‘Aqaba from Gaza or any part of the West Bank, so Sinai and Jordan (or somewhere in the Israeli Negev or northwestern Saudi Arabia, both seemingly unlikely due to heavy security in both countries) are the options. Both Egypt and Jordan denied all before much information was even available. I suspect Israel, given the rocket barrages it has faced from Gaza an southern Lebanon in various conflicts, has a pretty good reverse-tracking artillery system, and knows where it came from.

I do note that a few days ago Israel urged Israeli tourists to leave Sinai because of a claimed plot to kidnap Israelis there. Could they have detected a threat from Sinai but misread its nature? Don't know, but this Jerusalem Post piece notes the same coincidence.

No one was hurt, but barring something really weird, somebody managed to penetrate either Egyptian or Jordanian territory.

1 comment:

Reverend Tim said...

A mysterious missile from nowhere.
Boobquake on Monday. Topless at Eilat.

There's a theological connection there somewhere I'm sure.