IDF takes anti-aircraft missiles in Gaza into account

Last week, at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu already alluded to the likelihood of Hamas possessing anti-aircraft missiles.

f-16 figher jet AJ 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
f-16 figher jet AJ 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel is taking into account when planning military operations that Hamas likely has antiaircraft missiles in Gaza that could endanger IAF aircraft, a government source said Wednesday.
The comments came as the security cabinet was believed to have discussed on Wednesday the problem of missile smuggling into Gaza, and the threat this poses for the IAF.
RELATED:Palestinian sources: Weapons caches seized in SinaiC'tee allows Egypt border fenceThe Prime Minister’s Office, which put out a statement saying that the security cabinet had discussed plans to build a barrier to keep out infiltrators from Egypt, would not confirm that the anti-aircraft missiles were discussed, but did confirm that there were other issues, beyond the security fence, on the agenda.
Last week, at a Likud faction meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alluded to the likelihood of anti-aircraft missiles in Gaza.
“Today we are experiencing difficulty flying near the Gaza Strip since they [the Palestinians] have anti-aircraft missiles in their possession,” the prime minister said.
The missiles are believed to have been recently smuggled into Gaza. Hamas is already known to have rockets that can reach the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem, meanwhile, was carefully following Nigerian media reports that 13 containers of Iranian-supplied arms had been confiscated in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to the Nigerian Tribune, suspicions were aroused when the clearing agent on the ship was willing to pay any amount of money to have the containers transferred from the port to an off-dock terminal.
The report said the containers included grenades of various sizes, rocket launchers and different types of bombs, assault rifles and heavy machine guns.
The Nigerian Bulletin, meanwhile, reported that the confiscation of the containers came two weeks after a consignment of electronic equipment suspected of containing toxic materials had been seized at the same port.
The final destination of the weapons was not immediately clear. In the past, weapons coming from Africa have found their way into Gaza via Egypt.
The security cabinet, meanwhile, held a follow-up discussion to its decision back in March to construct a barrier against infiltrators along Israel’s border with Egypt.
The discussion was triggered by a clash between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, with media reports that Gabai wrote a letter saying he could not move the project forward because the Defense Ministry was not releasing the funds.
Back in March, the security cabinet approved the construction of a NIS 1.35-billion barrier along the 240- kilometer border with Egypt, from Kerem Shalom near the Gaza Strip, to Eilat, designed to prevent terrorism, drug smuggling, illegal infiltrations and human trafficking. Work, however, has been proceeding at a snail’s pace.
In a statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting, Netanyahu “instructed all the relevant bodies to act immediately to expedite the work and formulate additional solutions to reduce the number of foreign infiltrators in the period up until the barrier is completed.”
Netanyahu said he wanted to be briefed within 30 days on the start of work on the ground, and instructed Defense Ministry representatives to cooperate fully with a monitoring team chaired by Gabai. Netanyahu said a special project manager would be appointed to oversee work on the project.
The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Wednesday that construction on the barrier near Eilat had already begun in August. The barrier is based on electronic sensors in that area.
In mid-November, contractors and bulldozers will begin erecting a physical barrier – likely a fence combined with electronic sensors – along the rest of the border, particularly in areas considered “porous” – easy to cross.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry took 50 contractors on a tour of the border to explain the type of work that will be required. Officials said that a decision on the tender would be decided at the beginning of November, and that the winner would be expected to begin work by the middle of the month.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report .