While Israel and the Palestinian Authority engage in peace negotiations, Hamas continues to bolster its military capabilities for the next round of fighting with Israel. Al-Monitor is reporting that Palestinian terrorists had conducted a field test, firing an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli airplane circling above Gaza’s eastern border last month.
The missile missed its intended target and was briefly reported by pro-Hamas media; however, the incident went unreported by Israeli newspapers. Israel lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations after rockets fired following former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral, but Gaza sources claim that it was an anti-aircraft missile test, Al-Monitor reports. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, have bragged in the past that their anti-aircraft capabilities have changed the balance of power with Israel. The terrorist organization claims that they have damaged an Israeli helicopter and downed an armed surveillance drone.
Even if these reports are fabricated, it is clear that Hamas is desperately attempting to bolster their military capabilities. In September, the al-Qassam Brigades revealed that their fighters possessed SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles. Israeli military sources were aware of this significant development, blaming the collapse of the Gadhafi regime in Libya for the proliferation of such advanced weapons into Gaza.
The SA-7 missiles were displayed at a military parade along with light machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket propelled grenades and heavy weapons fixed on four-wheel-drive vehicles.
In addition, Al-Monitor reviewed a military document from the “Air Defense Unit” of one of Gaza’s factions, which claims the primary objective of acquiring anti-aircraft weapons is to neutralize the Israeli air force. But the flow of such weapons has been slowed since Egypt destroyed summing tunnels along its border with Gaza.
Earlier this week, the Times of Israel reported that Hamas used an intermediary to tell Jerusalem it “has no interest in furthering its conflict with Israel and seeking restraint on Israel’s part.” For now. All other signs show Hamas remains more committed to preparing for the next confrontation with Israel than it is to improving life for Palestinians in Gaza.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) is a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995. It is recognized as the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups. For more than a decade, the IPT has investigated the operations, funding, activities and front groups of Islamic terrorist and extremist groups in the United States and around the world.