Middle East

Israeli PM says Hamas 'has anti-aircraft missiles'

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Likud party meeting
Image caption Mr Netanyahu said Israeli aircraft were trying not to fly near Gaza

Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip have obtained anti-aircraft missiles, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

He told a meeting of his Likud Party that the new weapons had compromised Israel's aerial freedom over Gaza.

Any future peace agreement would have to include security arrangements to deal with the threat, Mr Netanyahu said.

Hamas dismissed the remarks as propaganda.

Correspondents say this is the first time an Israeli official has said openly that Hamas possess anti-aircraft weaponry - although intelligence officials have privately suspected this is the case.

"Today we are trying not to fly near Gaza because they have anti-aircraft missiles there," Mr Netanyahu said.

He warned the missiles could also threaten Israel's international airport.

"Imagine if we did not have security arrangements, and such missiles could take down planes on their way to Ben Gurion International Airport. We need to find long-term solutions," he said.

Hamas accused Mr Netanyahu of spreading propaganda to justify future attacks on Gaza.

"These remarks reflect the intention of the Zionist enemy to commit more crimes and more future aggression against our people," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.

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