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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Defense officials concerned over Hamas attempts to acquire anti-tank missiles

Israeli 'defense officials' have expressed concern over increased efforts by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to smuggle in anti-tank missiles. As you may recall, anti-tank missiles were a particularly effective weapon against Israeli troops in Lebanon.
The Palestinians have been trying for years to improve the quality of the anti-tank missiles at their disposal. Shortly before Israel withdrew from Gaza as part of last summer's disengagement plan, the Palestinians succeeded in improving the quality of their missiles by smuggling modern rocket-propelled grenades to replace the improvised weapons they had used until then.

Now there is a marked attempt to improve still further the quality of the missiles in the Palestinian arsenal. Hamas is particularly interested in getting its hands on the Russian-made missiles the Syrian army has. Some of these missiles were used by Hezbollah during last month's conflict in the North.

Based on that conflict, the Palestinians have concluded the Israel Defense Forces' armored divisions are vulnerable to anti-tank missiles developed in the Eastern bloc and are now making redoubled efforts to arm themselves with such weapons. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Hezbollah - and even Syria - are involved in these plans. Senior defense officials, including Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, have recently warned that the border between Egypt and Gaza is wide open to arms smuggling, and that large quantities of weapons, including some advanced weapons, have already crossed the border.

There is also growing concern in Israel over the possibility that Palestinians will attempt to launch an attack from the sea. There have been several such attempts in recent years, primarily by Islamic Jihad, which has dispatched booby-trapped boats close to Israeli naval and merchant vessels.
The 'disengagement' is coming back yet again to bite us.


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