Footage from fighting in Gaza overnight between Thursday and Friday included claims on social media that Hamas has used various air defense systems against Israel.
This would appear to represent an escalation by the terrorist group and show that it is trying to acquire more advanced defenses for the small area it operates.
Israel’s IDF said overnight that “An IDF UAV struck a heavy machine gun that was used to fire rounds toward IDF jets and Israeli territory.”
A heavy machine gun is one type of air defense system, however, it would be on the less sophisticated end of the spectrum of weapons that Hamas and other terror groups might use in Gaza.
Is Hamas using Strela-2 air defenses against Israel?
Hamas and other terror groups have been showing off other types of systems for several years. Photos in 2016 showed the group with what was alleged to be a Strela air defense system. The Strela-2, also known as an SA-7, was used back in 2012. The use of these types of systems back in 2012 was alleged to be linked to weapons smuggling from Libya after the Libyan regime collapsed in 2011.
Now the Strela-2 has made an appearance again, according to numerous reports on social media.
The Twitter user Clash Report put up footage showing what was alleged to be Strela-2 being launched. It also posted another video of what was said to be a “unsuccessful” use of “MANPADS” in Gaza. This refers to man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
Another video footage of Palestinian forces launching reportedly Strela-2 MANPADS on Israeli aircraft over Gaza. pic.twitter.com/WsUaL6pi6y— Clash Report (@clashreport) April 6, 2023
The Strela system was developed after the Second World War in the Soviet Union and after several improvements was widely exported in the 1970s and after. It is a lightweight system that includes a green tube for firing a missile.
The arms research expert @CalibreObscura shared a video that also alleged to show “Al Qassam Brigades targeting an IAF jet over Gaza with a MANPADS” on April 7. The user noted that it is “extremely hard to tell, but possibly a very rare use of 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16) or 9K38 Igla (SA-18) system; much more capable than the usual Strela-2M. They seem to be keen to use MANPADS a lot these days.”
#Gaza: Al Qassam Brigades targeting an IAF jet over Gaza with a MANPADS.Extremely hard to tell, but possibly a v. rare use of 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16) or 9K38 Igla (SA-18) system; much more capable than the usual Strela-2M. They seem to be keen to use MANPADS a lot these days. pic.twitter.com/siiyBT3zCs— Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) April 7, 2023
Other videos posted online overnight claimed to show “Strela missiles” being used. Hamas has claimed these capabilities for years. Back in January, the group claimed to have fired a Strela at Israeli jets.