Gaza Strip: Israeli copter hit as Hamas insists on truce conditions
Palestinian fighters hit an Israeli helicopter gunship in the northern part of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Friday, a spokesman for the group's armed wing said. Israel's public television said the helicopter suffered some damage and was forced to return to base. There were no casualties among the crew of two, the report added, according to Reuters.
"This afternoon our anti-aircraft crew opened fire at an Israeli aircraft over north Gaza, we know that it was hit," said Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Izz el-Din al-Qassam brigades, Hamas' military wing. Abu Ubaida added Hamas would continue to try to target Israeli aircraft with ever-improving munitions at their disposal. "This is a message from the Qassam Brigades that we are doing our utmost to confront Zionist planes ... and we will continue to try to hit them with more accurate weapons," he told Reuters.
The television report said it was the first known case in which Palestinian fighters had managed to hit an Israeli aircraft.
Gaza Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said on Friday repeated Hamas' position that there would be no ceasefire with Israel unless it halted all actions in the West Bank and the Strip, lifted the blockade and reopened crossings. He added the group hoped to create new conditions for opening the Gaza border with Egypt in Rafah without an important role for European observers who previously monitored entry and exit in an agreement which also involved Israel. "We insist that it will be a completely Arab crossing, therefore we call on Egypt and others for a serious dialogue which will extricate us from the agreement which Abu Mazen (Abbas) has been trying to chain us with," Zahar said.