Israel seeks plan to protect planes against rocket attacks
Israeli official states that all Israeli passenger planes will soon be equipped with a system that can divert shoulder-launched rockets fired at them.
Israel wants to expedite a plan to protect passenger planes against shoulder-launched rockets, Israeli media reported Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet convened to discuss the issue and voted for the plan late Sunday.
Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, could not give details. A Defense Ministry spokeswoman was not able to give more information.
But Israel Radio, quoting an anonymous official, reported that all Israeli passenger planes will be equipped "soon" with a system that can divert rockets launched at them.
Previous Israeli governments decided already years ago to protect Israeli planes against missiles fired from the ground - after a November 2002 attack in Mombasa, Kenya, in which militants drove a booby-trapped vehicle into an Israeli-owned hotel and fired two missiles at an Israeli charter plane, but missed.
Some 10 Kenyan employees and three Israeli tourists were killed in the blast in the hotel's lobby.
The multi-million dollar anti-missile project however was delayed over an argument between the Israeli government and Israeli airlines about who should pay and which system was to be preferred.
As early as 2006, the Haifa-based Elbit company, which specializes in a host of defense systems, had won a government tender.
Members of Netanyahu's cabinet were briefed late Sunday about the development of the systems and the differences among them.
A senior government official told Israel Radio on condition of anonymity that "no more delays can be tolerated" because of intelligence warnings the militants may be planning attacks on passenger planes.
According to the media reports, planes to Eilat will be the first to be equipped with the diversion system, because of the Red Sea resort city's proximity to the border with Egypt.
On August 18, at least a dozen militants attacked two buses and a car driving on a southern Israeli road, near Eilat and the border with Egypt. Eight Israelis were killed and some 31 wounded. Israel said the militants came from Gaza, from where they crossed into the Egyptian Sinai, before made their way down the border and crossed over into Israel near Eilat.