Daily Israel Report

Hamas Seeks Advanced Weapons through New Tunnels

Officials warn that Hamas is pursuing advanced weapons through new tunnels. Report: Hamas had anti-aircraft missiles, but couldn't use them.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/7/2009, 4:58 PM

Israel News Photo: file

Defense officials have warned that Hamas is building large weapons smuggling tunnels for the smuggling of advanced missiles that could reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The tunnels are designed to be larger and longer than the current ones, which are thought to be too small to accommodate large weapons and too close to the border for such smuggling activity to go undetected.

Hamas has attacked Israeli towns with short-range Kassam rockets manufactured locally and with medium-range Grad missiles believed to have been made in Iran. Smuggling operations resumed immediately after Operation Cast Lead, and the Iranian missiles already in Hamas's hands include short-range Fajr rockets that can be transported in parts and have a range of approximately 40 kilometers.

Hamas now seeks longer-range missiles and anti-aircraft weaponry, officials say. If Hamas were able to obtain the longer-range Fajr missile, it could strike the cities of Holon, Rehovot, Beit Shemesh, and even the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Most of Hamas's tunnel system was destroyed in Operation Cast Lead but is being rebuilt, according to military intelligence officers.

Report: Hamas Had Stinger System
According to a report in the World Tribune, Hamas managed to obtain four advanced anti-aircraft systems prior to the IDF counterterrorism offensive that began in December. However, when terrorists attempted to use the systems, they were unable to do so thanks to a technology allowing the system to recognize friendly aircraft.

The system in question was the Stinger man-portable air defense system that includes an integrated Identification Friend or Foe guidance system, which “questions” targeted aircraft to ensure that they are indeed enemy planes. Israel's Apache helicopters have IFF systems that prevented them from being targeted by the Stinger systems in Hamas's hands, according to the World Tribune report.

Aircraft equipped with IFF systems are programmed to relay a specific response to the Stinger system's radio-wave query so that the missiles will refuse to target the craft.

Hamas attempted to use the systems several times, but gave up after one missile launched, only to veer into a Hamas gunner squad.