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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hamas Obtains Anti-Aircraft Weapons in Gaza

IDF Intelligence Research Chief Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz disclosed Sunday that arms smuggling into Gaza by the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority includes even anti-aircraft weapons.

Baidatz's assessment is that Hamas plans to use the weapons against Israeli fighter planes in future armed conflicts, and eventually aims to use them against civilian aircraft as well.

The intelligence chief said that Israel must come up with a solution to protect its planes from the new weapons, or else imperil its entire aviation industry. It is known that PA Arabs are attempting to smuggle such weapons into Judea and Samaria as well, putting Ben Gurion International Airport within range of the missiles.

The same anti-tank rockets that were used to disable many of Israel's tanks in Lebanon have also been streaming into Gaza on a daily basis, making an IDF ground invasion of Gaza a much more perilous task. Hamas has warned that if Israel attempts to enter Gaza, it will be "greatly surprised."

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Miri Eisin said the weapons are being paid for and funneled into Gaza by Iran. Baidatz said that Syria has continued to smuggle weapons into Lebanon, and is making concrete preparations for an attack on Israel.

Prior to the implementation of the Disengagement from Gaza, the IDF controlled the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt, enabling teams of soldiers to identify and destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels on a regular basis. Following the withdrawal, in addition to week-long periods where the border lay open, tunnels have been built and continue to operate without obstruction.

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