The IDF believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have obtained several hundred advanced Russian-made antitank missiles – such as the Kornet and the Fagot – which have a range of more than 4 kilometers and are capable of penetrating armored personnel carriers and some IDF tanks.
Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip had a small number of these missiles ahead of Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s offensive against Hamas in 2009 – but only used them in a handful of known instances.
“They were not trained well then, and as a result, the missiles were not effective,” a senior IDF officer explained this week. “Since then, the groups have significantly increased the stockpile and have also sent specific terrorists to Iran for extensive training where they became anti-tank missile experts.”
The level of expertise was demonstrated earlier this year when Hamas fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus near Nahal Oz, which killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.
The missile was fired from a distance of close to 3 kilometers and the operator had to fire in between the Gaza security fence and electrical cables. “He also had to hit the bus, which was not easily seen on the road,” the officer said, explaining the complexities of the attack as a demonstration of the level of expertise in Gaza.