GAZA, July 11 (Reuters) - Islamist Hamas’s armed wing has warned airlines that it intends to target Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport with its rockets from Gaza and has told them not to fly there, a statement by the group said on Friday.
“In the light of Israel’s ... attacks on the residents of Gaza Strip ... The armed wing of Hamas movement has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today because it also hosts a military air base,” the statement said.
The group claimed earlier that it had already fired at least one rocket towards the airport on Friday but militant rockets, which are largely inaccurate, are not known to have landed in or around the airport, Israel’s main international aerial gateway, which is well protected by missile interceptor systems.
A spokesman for Israel’s airport authority said that a siren had sounded at Ben-Gurion and that all activity had stopped for about 10 minutes, but that the siren was part of a general alert in the Tel Aviv area and not a direct threat to the airport.
At least 86 Palestinians have died during Israel’s four day-old air and sea offensive on Gaza as it attempts to halt rocket fire by militants into Israel. Militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel reaching deeper into the country than ever before.
The militant group said it had issued the warning to the airlines so that they could avoid injury to their passengers. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Ralph Boulton)