An IDF helicopter in the Negev.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The IDF has refused to officially comment on reports that Palestinian terrorists
fired a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile at an IAF helicopter over Gaza
According to the report, which appeared in Yediot Aharonot on
Tuesday, the missile – identified as the low-altitude Strela SA-7 – missed its
target. It was the first known attempt to bring down an IAF craft using advanced
missiles in Gaza.
“Certainly, the threat of anti-aircraft missiles is a
serious worry, but it won’t disrupt the air force’s activities over Gaza,”
terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, of the Institute for National Security
Studies, told The Jerusalem Post
Schweitzer, who has served as
consultant on counterterror strategies to the Prime Minister’s Office and the
Defense Ministry, noted that the period of instability rocking the Middle East
has allowed terrorists to smuggle strategic weapons into the Gaza Strip and the
Israeli security officials believe some of the weapons
are being smuggled in to the region from Libya. Last year, ABC News reported on
White House assessments that some 20,000 heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles
were unaccounted for in Libya.
Similarly, there are concerns in Israel
that Syrian military arms depots will be raided by jihadis and turned on Israeli
targets in the future.
The SA-7 can reportedly travel at 1,800 kilometers
per hour and approach moving targets using heat-sensitive
According to the report, military intelligence officials have
for years suspected that Hamas is in possession of anti-aircraft weapons but
that it has chosen not to use them until now.
Israel’s Elbit Systems
defense producer introduced in 2011 a laser-based anti-missile shield for
civilian planes and helicopters.