Friday, Jan 2, 2008
There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona.
Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers and military chiefs have been shaken by the size and sophistication of the militant group’s arsenal.
In Beersheba, until a few days ago a sleepy desert town in southern Israel, there is little sign of the 186,000 inhabitants. Schools are closed and the streets of shuttered shops echo with the howl of sirens warning of incoming rockets.
Israeli planes, meanwhile, began a new stage yesterday in their offensive on Gaza, killing Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas official. The one-tonne bomb in Jabaliya is also understood to have killed two of his four wives and four of his twelve children. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed in the six days of Israeli attacks.
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Despite a diplomatic mission by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister, to Paris, the Israeli army continued to muster thousands of troops and scores of tanks along Gaza’s border for a possible ground offensive. Israel’s airstrikes are designed to blunt Hamas’s capacity to fire its new Grad missiles deep into its territory. The weapons are smuggled in through tunnels and by sea, replacing homemade Qassam rockets.
Israeli officials say that Hamas has also acquired dozens of Iranian-made Fajr-3 missiles with an even longer range. Many fear that as the group acquires ever more sophisticated weaponry it is only a matter of time before the nuclear installation at Dimona, 20 miles east of Beersheba, falls within its sights. Dimona houses Israel’s only nuclear reactor and is believed to be where nuclear warheads are stored.
This article was posted: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 5:20 am