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Iran denies supplying rockets to Gaza militants

Reuters

An Iranian lawmaker has denied his country had supplied Palestinian Islamist militants with missiles capable of hitting Israel's commercial centre.

The Fajr is a prestige weapon for Hamas, which is massively outgunned by Israel's technologically superior military. (AFP)

Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam television has reported.

Israel began air strikes on Gaza on Wednesday, with the declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.

Hamas' armed wing said on Saturday it had launched an Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket at Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial centre, about 70km north of Gaza, in the third rocket attack on the city since Wednesday.

Israeli police said Saturday's rocket was intercepted mid-air by an Israeli anti-missile battery and caused no casualties or damage.

Israel's enemy Iran, which supports and arms Hamas, has condemned the offensive begun by the Israel Defence Forces as "organised terrorism".

But Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said Israeli claims that Iran was supplying rockets were unfounded, according to a report posted on Al Alam's website on Saturday evening.

The militants were self-sufficient and in no need of weapons from outside their territory, he added, according to Al Alam.

With its 75km range and a 175kg warhead – powerful enough to shear through a concrete apartment block – the Fajr is a prestige weapon for Hamas, which is massively outgunned by Israel's technologically superior military.

By putting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in reach of the Palestinians, the Fajrs are also potential strategic game-changers that could draw even fiercer Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The Israelis say they have destroyed around 20 of the rockets on the ground and only a few remain in the Gaza arsenals.  – Reuters

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