IDF faces 'new threat' from Gaza

Analyst: Anti-aircraft missiles in arms cache found by Egyptians in Sinai "a very significant change."

Kassam hits house 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kassam hits house 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Air force combat helicopters flying over Gaza "will have to take a new threat into account," an IDC security analyst said Saturday, following the discovery of 30 anti-aircraft missiles by Egyptian police in Sinai, said to be destined for the Gaza Strip. The arms cache, uncovered 80 km. south of the Rafah border crossing, also included hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rifles, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, Egyptian authorities said. Hours later, Egyptian police announced a second seizure, this time finding 100 kg. of explosives just 3.5 km. from Gaza. "There's no doubt that the appearance of these weapons represents a very significant change," said Yoram Schweitzer, director of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. "Air force helicopters fly low over Gaza, and if they are downed the significance of that would be enormous. The air force has to make preparations, and take these weapons into account," Schweitzer said. Israel had refrained from seizing control of the Philadelphi Corridor on the Gaza-Sinai border, under which most of Hamas's weapons are smuggled into the Strip, to "avoid paying the price for retaking control. In the meantime, it is paying a price for not moving in," he said. Last week, the Egyptian police said it seized half a ton of explosives hidden in 10 sacks a few hundred meters from Rafah. Also seized last week were TNT bombs and arms in a village in central Sinai. Cairo said that cache dated to the 1970s. Also on Saturday, two people were wounded by a Kassam rocket in a community in the in the western Negev's Eshkol Regional Council. Shrapnel from the rocket wounded a Thai chicken coop worker, partially severing his hand. A second man was lightly wounded. The two victims were airlifted to Beersheba's Soroka Medical Center. Islamic Jihad said it was behind the attack.