Apache helicopter
Apache helicopterIsrael news photo: IDF

Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza last week fired a missile, smuggled from Libya, at an Israeli aircraft but missed it, the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported Tuesday. The missile was aimed at an IAF helicopter..

Military intelligence previously has said that Hamas and other terrorist organizations have stockpiled a large number of anti-aircraft missiles, but have not used them in order not to spark an escalation in IDF retaliation.

Last Friday, unidentified terrorists reportedly fired a Russian made Strela-2 missile, one of many that have been smuggled into Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi earlier this year. Intelligence officials estimate that approximately 1,000 of the missiles are missing from the Libyan army’s arsenal, and many of them found their way into the hands of terrorists in Gaza and the Sinai.

Commercial aircraft already have been warned to steer clear of the Gaza region, and military sources see the use of anti-aircraft missiles as a sigמ that Hamas is ready to force an escalation of violence with Israel, possibly including a massive rocket barrage, within a short period of time.

The Strela-2 surface-to-air missile system is shoulder-fired and has a high explosive warhead and passive infrared homing guidance. It can hit aircraft flying as fast as 1,800 kmh (1,118 miles an hour) and at altitudes up to 2,300 meters (7,500 feet).

Although Friday’s attempted missile strike was the first report of an anti-aircraft missile aimed at the Israeli Air Force from Gaza, Sinai terrorists fired the same type of missile a year ago in the deadly attack on Israelis on Highway 12, adjacent to the Egyptian-Sinai border. Six people were killed.