Israel sees Libya as new source of arms for Gaza

JERUSALEM Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:52pm EDT

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Libya has become a new source of smuggled weaponry for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

With eastern Libya largely held by rebels who rose up against Muammar Gaddafi in February, arms were being brought across the border, through neighboring Egypt, to the Islamist Hamas-ruled territory, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

"Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," he told foreign journalists in a briefing, without elaborating on the kind of munitions involved.

Hamas officials had no immediate comment on Yaalon's charge.

Egypt's Sinai peninsula, which borders both Israel and Gaza, has long seen traffic in Palestinian arms which come up through Sudan or are brought in by ship over the Mediterranean.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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