Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Sudan accuses Israel of bombing arms factory -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Sudan accuses Israel of bombing arms factory
Barney Porter reported this story on Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Sudanese government is today accusing Israel of being behind a deadly air strike that destroyed an arms factory in the capital Khartoum.

Israel's defence minister declined to respond to the Sudanese allegations but the Israeli government has previously identified Khartoum as a base for militants from the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas.

Barney Porter has our report.

BARNEY PORTER: A huge fire broke out at the Yarmouk arms factory in the south of Khartoum, after it was rocked by several explosions.

It's Sudan's main factory for ammunition and small arms.

Local officials initially ruled out any external cause for the blast, but later showed journalists images of a huge bomb crater next to two destroyed buildings and what appears to be debris from a rocket.

AHMED BILAL OSMAN: We have to reply because this is too much. This is the fourth time they have done this.

BARNEY PORTER: That's Sudan's information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman.

He was referring to an incident last May, when one person was killed after a car exploded in the eastern city of Port Sudan; a similar blast last year was blamed on an Israeli missile strike; and there was a fourth such incident in eastern Sudan in 2009.

Now it appears the Sudanese have had enough.

Ahmed Osman again.

AHMED BILAL OSMAN: Definitely we are not going to attack Israel there but we have the means, we have the means of how we can reply. They killed our people, this things are not cheap and are not cheap and we know how to retaliate.

BARNEY PORTER: At this stage, the extent of retaliation appears to be a call by Sudan's ambassador to the UN calling on the Security Council to condemn the attack arguing it's what he's termed "a blatant violation of the concept of peace and security".

Yossi Mekelberg is a Middle East analyst with Chatham House.

YOSSI MEKELBERG: I don't think Sudan and Israel have real interest to escalate it and to enter into a sort of... definitely not war, they're quite far apart, but as far as Sudan is concerned, a complaint to the UN, we know how effective is the Security Council and probably it will end there.

BARNEY PORTER: For its part, Israel has long accused Sudan of providing an arms-smuggling route to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, via neighbouring Egypt.

The information minister has declined to say whether any weapons from Yarmouk have ended up in Gaza.

Whatever their source, Hamas militants in Gaza this week have fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel in the heaviest bombardment on the area in months.

Israel responded with a series of air strikes on rocket launchers, killing two Palestinian militants.

Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum.

FAWZI BARHOUM (translated): This is a dangerous escalation. It comes after Israeli threats to target the strip. The Israelis wants to disrupt the atmosphere ahead of the Eid. They want to achieve political and electoral gains ahead of the coming Israeli elections.

BARNEY PORTER: The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has threatened even stronger Israeli military action in Gaza.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (translated): We did not choose this escalation nor did we initiate it but if it continues we are prepared for a much wider and deeper operation. Anyone planning to hurt the citizens of Israel should know that they will be made to pay for his actions.

BARNEY PORTER: Middle East analyst Yossi Mekelberg also sees wider domestic and international motives at hand.

YOSSI MEKELBERG: If we would like to be a bit cynical, we are a few months before the election so actually showing that Israelis are (inaudible) and can deal with whatever they think, supply ammunition and weapons to the Hamas won't do any harm in the ballot box.

It is also can be also a sign to Iran. Listen if we want to have an operation far away from home, we have the capacity and capability to do so.

BARNEY PORTER: Bilateral talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have been deadlocked since 2010.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, says he'd be ready for negotiations with Israel "straight away", if the UN recognises Palestine as a non-member state - a move opposed by both the US and Israel.

The head of the UN General Assembly has said the issue is likely to be debated in mid-November - that's after the US presidential election.

ELEANOR HALL: Barney Porter reporting.