November 4, 2009
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has successfully test-fired a rocket capable of reaching Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli general warned on Tuesday. Skiphe rocket, believed to be Iranian-made, has a range of about 60 kilometres (37 miles), putting Israel’s major population centres in range, said Major General Amos Yadlin, head of military intelligence. Gaza’s Hamas rulers apparently successfully test-fired the rocket out to sea, Yadlin told a closed-door meeting of parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, according to a participant. Hamas called the claim a “fabrication” designed to mobilise world opinion against the Islamist group before the UN General Assembly which was on Wednesday to discuss a controversial report on the Gaza war. “This is a pre-emptive step by the Zionist enemy to influence international opinion ahead of the General Assembly’s discussion of the Goldstone report,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. “This crisis has pushed the Zionist enemy to create these kinds of fabrications,” he added. The report by respected South African jurist and former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian militants of committing war crimes during the December-January Gaza war. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the three-week war launched by Israel on December 27 and aimed at halting rocket attacks. Militants have in recent years fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel, most with a range of just a few kilometres. Yadlin said that although Hamas is trying to expand its arsenal, it does not appear ready for another conflict with Israel following last winter’s war. Instead, they appear focused on consolidating their rule over the coastal enclave, he said. Hamas fighters seized power in the impoverished Gaza Strip in 2007, expelling secular forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.