Egypt Deploys Security Forces to Border

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SINAI - Egypt beefed up its security forces along the northern Sinai border on Thursday, declaring the area "under extreme emergency."

The move came in the wake of Monday's rocket attack on the resort cities of Eilat and Aqaba, which killed one Jordanian and injured several others.

"Top-level security forces were sent to the northern Sinai," Egyptian security officials told the Egyptian Gazette.

"Security forces will search the area and conduct investigations into the possible hiding place of Palestinians," the report said.

Egypt initially issued a statement denying the Grad-type rockets were fired from the Sinai, saying its security forces prevented terrorists from operating there.

On Wednesday, Egypt retracted its original statement, agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a Hamas-affiliated terror cell had carried out the attack.

Netanyahu said the terror cell likely entered the Sinai from Gaza through one of the smuggling tunnels near the Rafah border crossing.

"An official Egyptian source said Palestinian factions from the [Hamas-ruled] Gaza Strip were behind the launch of five rockets on Jordan's Aqaba and on Eilat in Israel on Monday," MENA, the Middle East News Agency, reported on Wednesday.

Senior Hamas official Saleh el-Bardawil rejected the notion that a Hamas terror cell had carried out the attack.

"The accusation that Hamas was behind the launch of these rockets is a lie," el-Bardawil said in a statement.

"We demand that the Egyptian leadership investigate these [accusations], which provide a justification for the [Israeli] occupation to condemn Egypt and strike the Gaza Strip," the statement read.

On Monday morning, the terror cell targeted Eilat, Israel's southernmost resort town.

Two rockets landed in the Red Sea, one hit in an open area just north of Eilat's hotels, and two exploded in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in the nearby Jordanian city of Aqaba, killing one person and injuring four others.

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IMRA contributed to this report.

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