JERUSALEM, Israel -- Residents of Israel's southernmost resort town were awakened at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday by air raid sirens, followed by two loud explosions as the Iron Dome anti-missile battery intercepted and destroyed an incoming Grad missile.
Israel deployed the battery to Eilat last month as a precaution against attacks by Islamist groups operating in the Sinai. Paramedics treated three people for shock, and some families spent the remainder of the night in their bomb shelters.
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, an al Qaeda-linked terror group, claimed responsibility for the attack. They called the missile retaliation for Friday's airstrike near the Rafah border crossing that killed four of its members and destroyed a launch pad.
"The Jews will pay the price for the blood of the jihadists [they] killed," the group said in a statement, the Times of Israel reported.
Media reports claimed an Israeli drone carried out a preemptive strike Friday, following intelligence warnings from Egyptian security that Islamists were preparing to launch rocket strikes on southern Israeli towns.
Earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon did not confirm or deny the claims, saying Israel respects Egypt's sovereignty over the Sinai Desert.
Cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian militaries has improved since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.