Israel sees threat to airliners from smuggled Libyan SAMs

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TEL AVIV — Israel’s intelligence community has warned that
shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles may have reached the West Bank.

Security sources said several intelligence agencies have assessed that
man-portable air defense systems could have been smuggled from Libya through
Egypt and to the West Bank. They said the Hamas regime has absorbed scores
of Russian-origin SA-7 and SA-14 systems from Libya and was believed to have
attempted to transfer some of these missiles to the West Bank.

Israeli airlines are being equipped with a system known as C-Music that uses a laser to "blind" heat-seeking missiles. /Reuters

“There is a smuggling of weapons to the West Bank, and there is no reason to rule out that they include SAMs,” a security source said.

The sources said Hamas was believed to be working with Palestinian militias to facilitate the smuggling of SAMs to the West Bank. They said the Hamas regime preferred SAM attacks on Israeli passenger jets at Ben-Gurion Airport, located about six kilometers from the 1967 border, rather than challenge Israel Air Force aircraft over the Gaza Strip. The sole reported
firing of a SAM from the Gaza Strip took place in August.

“If there are SAM attacks from the West Bank, then Hamas in Gaza can’t be blamed,” the source said. “The Palestinians could even manipulate it so that Fatah factions are held responsible.”

The Defense Ministry and Transport Ministry have urged airlines that operate in Israel to install missile-warning systems to counter threats from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Officials said the
government was subsidizing the cost of the purchase of the C-Music laser
system, meant to blind heat-seeking missiles. Procurement and installation
of C-Music was reported to cost up to $1.5 million per plane.

“All of the Israeli airlines have pledged to use the system, and we hope
over the next two years, most of the fleet will be covered,” an official

C-Music was meant to replace the Flight Guard system by Israel Military
Industries. Flight Guard, which uses flares, has been denied certification
in Western countries because of the concern of setting fire to airports.

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