Israel has complained to the United Nations after an escalation in Gaza terrorist attacks and IDF officials have said that Israel will deploy tanks equipped with a miniature missile-defense system along the Gaza Strip border in the coming weeks now that Palestinian militants are using a sophisticated, tank-piercing missile.
Violence has been escalating along the Gaza border in recent weeks, and IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi disclosed on Tuesday that militants from the Palestinian coastal strip had for the first time fired a Kornet missile earlier this month and that it penetrated an Israeli tank. The soldiers inside the tank were not injured.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have not confirmed or denied possessing the missiles.
Israeli officials say the Iranian-backed Gaza militants who once relied on crude, locally made projectiles, have steadily acquired more powerful and accurate missiles produced overseas.
The IDF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss such matters publicly, alleged the laser-guided Kornet had come from Iran. They provided no proof and it was not clear how the missiles were delivered. Hamas, which has close ties with Iran, controls a network of smuggling tunnels along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.
The advanced missile, apparently made in Iran, was fired last week from a longer range than more primitive anti-tank rockets, and its use two weeks ago was revealed on Tuesday by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Hizbullah used the Kornet in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Hamas and allied terrorists have attacked the western Negev with at least 18 missiles and mortar shells since Monday in a sharp escalation in violence. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said that the IDF retaliation included buildings housing Hamas terrorists, the first time they have been targeted, with the exception of “ticking bombs,” since the end of Operation Cast Lead two years ago next month.
The complaint to the United Nations pointed out that a Kassam rocket exploded near a kindergarten on a kibbutz Monday morning, wounding a 14-year-old girl and sending several others into traumatic shock. “The incidents of the past several days are part of an escalation of terrorist attacks emanating from Gaza that target Israeli civilians, towns, and military personnel,” wrote Israel’s United Nations Ambassador Meron Reuben.
“Israel holds the de facto Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip completely responsible for all of these incidents, which are carried out in clear violation of international law,” he added. “In response to such attacks, Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defense.
“In a previous letter on 9 December 2010, I mentioned that the escalation of such attacks should be viewed with the utmost seriousness. With the intention of preventing the continued escalation of conflict, the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the international community must send a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable.
“In addition, the Security Council must give appropriate attention to the smuggling of arms into Gaza, which continues to fuel violence and instability in our region – in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1860.
“I wish to inform you that an identical letter has been sent to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.”
Reported by TBG, INN, Ynet, JP, IDF, AR, SMC, GN, UNW