Iran smuggled into the Gaza Strip about 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of shortrange rockets and a few dozen advanced anti-tank missiles over the past year, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Thursday.
In a report summing up 2010, the Shin Bet said that Iran continued to serve as Hamas’s dominant supplier of weaponry throughout the past year, using smuggling routes in Sudan and Sinai. It was also instrumental in funding the training of Hamas operatives in Lebanon and Syria.
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Last week, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi revealed that two weeks ago, a Russianmade Kornet anti-tank missile – one of the most sophisticated in the world – hit an Israeli Merkava tank and succeeded in penetrating its hull. As a result, the IDF has decided to deploy Battalion 9 of the 401st Armored Brigade along the Gaza border, since its tanks are equipped with the Trophy active protection antitank missile defense system.
The Shin Bet warned that Hamas was making efforts to reestablish its military infrastructure in the West Bank with an emphasis on the Hebron area. Some of these efforts were thwarted by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority security forces, the Shin Bet said.
The most dramatic statistic in the report was the significant drop in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, down from 569 in 2009 to 150 in 2010. In 2008, in comparison, 2,048 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.
The Shin Bet warned in its report, however, that Sinai was turning into the “backyard” for Hamas operations as well as for storage of arms that could later be smuggled into Gaza and used against Israel. While the weaponry is in Sinai it is not vulnerable to Israeli attacks. There were also two incidents over the past year of Hamas rocket attacks from the Sinai at Eilat.
The Shin Bet warned of an increase in attacks in the Jerusalem area, with an emphasis on shooting and gasoline bomb attacks.
In total, the Shin Bet recorded a drop in the number of attacks in 2010 to 798 in comparison to 1,354 a year earlier.