A select group of Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have undergone
extensive military training recently in Iran, turning them into expert operators
of sophisticated anti-tank missiles, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
IDF believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have obtained several hundred advanced
Russian-made antitank missiles – such as the Kornet and the Fagot – which have a
range of more than 4 kilometers and are capable of penetrating armored personnel
carriers and some IDF tanks.
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Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip had a
small number of these missiles ahead of Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s offensive
against Hamas in 2009 – but only used them in a handful of known
“They were not trained well then, and as a result, the
missiles were not effective,” a senior IDF officer explained this week. “Since
then, the groups have significantly increased the stockpile and have also sent
specific terrorists to Iran for extensive training where they became anti-tank
The level of expertise was demonstrated earlier this
year when Hamas fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus near Nahal Oz,
which killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.
The missile was fired from a
distance of close to 3 kilometers and the operator had to fire in between the
Gaza security fence and electrical cables. “He also had to hit the bus, which was not easily seen on the road,” the officer
said, explaining the complexities of the attack as a demonstration of the level
of expertise in Gaza.
The anti-tank missiles are obtained by Hamas in
several different ways. In some cases, they are purchased directly from Russia
by Syria and are then transferred to Hamas or Hezbollah.
In other cases,
Hamas operatives buy the weaponry on the black market and then smuggle it into
the Gaza Strip via the tunnels it maintains under the Philadelphi
“The Gaza Strip is completely different today than what it was
almost three years ago,” a senior defense official said. “The amounts of
weaponry are significantly higher as well as the type of weaponry and its
In face of the threat, the IDF is moving forward with
plans to install the Trophy active protection system on Merkava Mk 4 tanks that
are in production ahead of their delivery to the 401st Armored Brigade. Two of
the brigade’s battalions have already received the system and the remaining
battalion will finish receiving it by the beginning of 2012.
system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the
Merkava tank, which operated prominently in Lebanon and the Gaza
Using advanced radar, the system is designed to detect and track a
threat and counters it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank