Gaza militants fired SAM missile: Israeli sources

Palestinian militants have made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli aircraft over the Gaza Strip with a surface-to-air missile, Israeli security sources told AFP on Tuesday.

In last week's incident, militants fired a Soviet-made Strela missile at an Israeli aircraft but missed, they said, without specifying what had been targeted.

The sources said that the military has been aware for some time that Gaza militants had such weapons in their arsenal, but that this was the first confirmed firing of a Strela from the coastal territory.

The incident occurred as Israeli aircraft were in action during a spike in cross-border violence, with militants firing rockets and mortar rounds.

The latest bout of unrest began on October 7 when an Israeli air strike targeted two Gaza Salafists in the southern city of Rafah, killing one and critically wounding a second.

Five children and three adults were also injured in the strike, prompting a rare armed response from Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, who fired a barrage of rockets at Israel.

The violence rumbled on until the weekend, when a series of Israeli air strikes killed five militants, including a top Salafist leader.

Top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot accused the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza of responsibility for firing the SAM missile.

"The Hamas decision to make use of an anti-aircraft missile against an IAF aircraft demonstrates its desire to escalate the level of warfare against Israel," the paper wrote.

© 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Oct 16, 2012