'UAVs hit Gaza-bound weapons convoys'

Israel used unmanned aircraft to foil shipments of long-range Iranian rockets, 'Sunday Times' reports.

Hermes 450 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hermes 450 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel used unmanned aircraft in a series of attacks on Iranian convoys in Sudan which were attempting to smuggle long-range missiles into the Gaza Strip, according to a report in London's Sunday Times. The Sunday report quoted Israeli defense forces as saying that the strikes, which were widely reported last week, were carried out by Israeli-made Hermes 450 drones. The convoys that were hit in Sudan were carrying long-range Fajr 3 rockets, which can reach as far as Tel Aviv, according to defense sources quoted in the report. They were also quoted as saying that the drones were chosen over manned aircraft due to the "slippery" nature of the mobile target. "When you attack a fixed target, especially a big one, you are better off using jet aircraft. But with a moving target with no definite time for the move, UAVs are best as they can hover extremely high and remain unseen until the target is on the move," the Israeli unnamed sources were quoted as saying. The article quoted another source as saying that the Fajr rockets had been disassembled in order to make it easier to smuggle them into Gaza, where they would be reassembled by "Hamas experts who learned the job in Syria and Iran." The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. Earlier, ABC News reported that the initially reported strike in January was not an isolated incident, but rather one of at least three attacks. A US official was quoted by the station as saying that two strikes took place in the Sudan, while a third occurred in the Red Sea. Israel has yet to offer an official response to the allegations, although on Thursday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said there was "nowhere in the world" that Israel cannot reach, adding that "everybody can use their imagination." Various statements made by officials in the Sudan and the United States have offered a murky, and somewhat contradictory picture of the alleged clandestine operations. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said Friday there was no proof that Israel attacked a Hamas-bound arms convoy in the country two months ago, Israel Radio reported. A ministry spokesman, Ali Sadiq, said Khartoum was investigating several leads regarding the strike, Israel being only one of them. The Sudanese government issued the statement after the US shook off allegations that it was behind the strike. Earlier, US officials confirmed that the IAF did indeed bomb a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January that was believed to be carrying arms for eventual delivery to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.