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Why anti-tank missiles pose a threat along Gaza border

CM 12/05/2021

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On Wednesday an anti-tank missile struck an Israel Defense Forces patrol vehicle on the Gaza border. I was near the site where it happened, watching a crew of a tank that was busy loading the vehicle onto a transporter. Ambulances rushed by, on the way to the scene of the attack. Over time, two incidents unfolded. 
The use of anti-tank missiles, often Kornet missiles, has plagued Israel for years. On May 5, 2019 a car was hit by a similar missile. In that case, during increased tensions along the border, a car was hit near route 34. That route runs close to the border for several kilometers and is exposed to the Gaza Strip. It has an adjoining road that goes to the community of Erez which is right on the border. Drivers who go along route 34 will first becoming from the 4 from Ashkelon or from Sderot.  
This isn’t the only exposed section of border. There are many others as well, such as near Nahal Oz or in the many agricultural fields along the border. Areas of Zikim and Netiv Ha’Asara, where the incident happened this week, are also exposed. There was an attack on a school bus in 2011 near Sha’ar HaNegev in 2011. A bus was hit near Kfar Aza in 2018 after soldiers had disembarked.  
The Russian-made Kornet anti-tank guided missile, often called ATGM as an acronym, is accurate and effective. It has a range of around 5.5 kilometers. It has been used by Hamas and other terrorist groups for years. It has also been used by Hezbollah. In 2015 Hezbollah fired several ATGMs against Israeli Humvees on the border. ISIS also acquired ATGMs in Sinai in 2015. The missiles Hamas uses are thought to come from Iran and other sources over the years. It has used them in the Gaza Strip during fighting against Israeli ground forces in the past as well. 
Given its range it poses a major threat along the border. However various work to keep Hamas back from the border, including clearing areas along the border, using sophisticated technology to scan and do surveillance and having walls, barriers and a fence, have all decreased the Hamas threat.

Nevertheless as was revealed on May 12 the ATGM threat is one that must be taken into account. After the incident on Wednesday I drove to Zikim, a pretty community that overlooks the sea near the Gaza border. The bucolic and pleasant air here mask the threat just a few kilometers away. A local security guard warned that as we sat watching Gaza we were under threat from ATGMs. The scene below, with the agricultural fields and houses of the kibbutzim along the border, show how precarious the situation can be if Hamas chooses to use more of these weapons.  

Source: Jerusalem Post

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