Tel Aviv in range of new Hizbullah rockets

Monday, July 26, 2004

JERUSALEM Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash has told the Cabinet that Hizbullah has 30 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, potentially armed with chemical warheads.

In his briefing, Zeevi-Farkash said Hizbullah has been equipped with long-range surface-to-surface rockets that can reach the Tel Aviv area. The general said Hizbullah has at least 30 rockets with ranges of 115 kilometers and 215 kilometers. Another 500 were deemed as medium-range rockets, which can reach a distance of about 75 kilometers.

The intelligence chief said Syria wants to tip some of the Hizbullah rockets with chemical warheads. He said Syria has already been launching tests of CW warheads on medium-range rockets. Hizbullah was said to have more than 13,500 rockets and missiles stationed in southern and eastern Lebanon, Middle East Newsline reported.

Zeevi-Farkash also told the Cabinet that Egypt has foiled a plot to smuggle 60 surface-to-surface rockets to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian insurgency groups.

Zeevi-Farkash said Hizbullah attempted to smuggle the rockets through the Sinai Peninsula to weapons tunnels that connect with the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Zeevi-Farkash was not quoted as saying whether the rockets were captured or were still in the hands of arms dealers in the Sinai Peninsula. The military intelligence chief said the rocket shipment was blocked before it arrived in Rafah.

In May, Israeli intelligence reported that Palestinian insurgents had ordered a large shipment of rockets, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles. Intelligence officers said a large amount of Cobra RPGs from Egypt's defense industry was smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

Hours later, Palestinian gunners fired anti-tank weapons and Kassam-class short-range missiles toward Israeli communities throughout the Gaza Strip. A Kassam missile landed near a community center in Neve Dekalim and five children were injured.

Israeli officials have termed the Palestinian rocket and missile arsenal a leading threat to the Jewish state. They said Israel and the United States were developing the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser to respond to the Kassam threat.

Earlier, an Israeli Air Force AH-64A Apache attack helicopter targeted a suspected Hamas weapons workshop in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources said the facility, which produced Kassam missiles, was struck.

In the West Bank, Israeli border police killed six Fatah insurgents in the northern city of Tulkarm. The insurgents, who included the local Fatah commander, were said to be heading for an attack inside Israel.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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