Israel speeds up work on airline defence system

Israel fears that Palestinian militants in Gaza have obtained anti-aircraft weapons looted from Libya.

Jerusalem: Israel has sped up work on an anti-missile defence system for commercial airliners because of fears that Palestinian militants in Gaza have obtained anti-aircraft weapons looted from Libya.

Israeli defence officials on Friday said all Israeli planes will be equipped with the laser-based system "within months”. The officials said that is about a year ahead of the original date. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to brief the media.

Israel believes weapons looted during the civil war in Libya have been smuggled into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel began developing the defence system in 2002, after an Israeli passenger jet was targeted by Islamic militants using shoulder-fired missiles outside Mombasa, Kenya.

Bureau Report

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