Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hamas smuggles Grad rockets via the sea

Gaza City- Mar 13, 2008
An aide to Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said Thursday that his movement had smuggled the Iranian-made Grad rockets which it fired at Israel early this and late last month into the Gaza Strip via the Mediterranean Sea.

Ahmed Yousef denied that the rockets, 15 of which struck the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon between February 28 and March 2, were brought into the Gaza Strip via the border with Egypt when it was breached for almost a week in late January.

'Grad rockets are long and sensitive and the Egyptian statements that these rockets don't enter through its territories are true,' Yousef, Haniya's political advisor, told reporters in Gaza.

Though Israel controls the sea, Palestinian armed groups 'were able to bring in this kind of rockets,' said Yousef, who clarified he was 'not a rocket expert.'

'The Palestinian resistance knows how to get the Grad rockets,' he said.

Most of the Grads which struck Ashkelon in late February and early March were fired by Hamas, although some of them were launched by the Islamic Jihad as well.

Hamas, whose de-facto administration in Gaza is not recognized by Egypt, is seeking to improve relations with the Strip's southern neighbour.

It is expected to send a delegation to Cairo later this month for talks that will attempt to reach a deal that would allow the reopening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing of Rafah, and a possible suspension of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the Strip.

Proof that the Grad rockets entered Gaza through its border would be embarrassing for Egypt.


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