Hamas capabilities catching up with intentions

posted at 1:30 pm on April 9, 2011 by J.E. Dyer

It might have been easy to miss this detail in the report of the Hamas attack on an Israeli school bus on 7 April, in which a 13-year-old boy and the bus driver were injured (the boy severely).  Hamas used a state-of-the-art Russian-design antitank missile, the 9M133 Kornet (NATO designation AT-14 SPRIGGAN), to attack the bus.  Israeli officials confirmed that the hit on the school bus was achieved using laser guidance, and that the missile was launched from two miles away.

The account of the attack indicates that the bus was stopped (and had just offloaded most of its 50 schoolchildren, which was why more of them weren’t injured).  So Hamas wasn’t attempting to hit a moving target. But the ability to accurately target a bus from a distance of two miles, with an effective modern weapon, is a game-changer in the Hamas campaign to target civilians.

With older weapons and planted-bomb tactics, the effects Hamas could produce were more random and less predictable.  Lobbing rockets indiscriminately into southern Israel is certainly evidence of evil intentions, but the probability of achieving specific or catastrophic damage with any individual round was low.  Mortars can be delivered with useful accuracy, but they are not missiles capable of guided flight toward a target, which amplifies the destructive effect that can be achieved for the same amount of explosive.  Bomb planting requires extensive advance planning and is not a pursuit tactic; it doesn’t adapt to changing conditions, but rather is tied to a place, and a tactical objective that is at least hours old when the bomb detonates, and usually something more like weeks old.

The difference the Kornet antitank guided missile (ATGM) makes, particularly with the laser guidance package, is that it puts accuracy, effectiveness, tactical adaptability, and standoff distance behind the vicious intentions which perennially characterize Hamas.

Implications of the Kornet ATGM

The conventional military applications are obvious.  In December 2010, the IDF chief briefed the Knesset that an Israeli Merkava III tank in southern Israel had been hit by a Kornet ATGM fired from Gaza, which appears to be the first reported instance of the weapon’s use by Hamas.  Hezbollah used the Kornet extensively in the Lebanon war in 2006, and Israel is fitting its tanks with the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) to combat the growing ATGM threat. This report, citing IDF sources, indicates that a Trophy-equipped Merkava IV defeated an ATGM (of unspecified type, but probably a Kornet) launched from Gaza in March 2011.

But the threat to the civilian population can’t be mitigated in this way.  An ATGM is not the kind of weapon Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system can counter; Iron Dome is designed to intercept short-range rockets and battlefield ballistic missiles with higher trajectories.

Iron Dome works too: second IDF “first” in the space of a few weeks

Which it did yesterday, achieving a historic first by intercepting its first rocket during the 3-hour barrage from Gaza.  (Worth another post in itself.)  The rocket-and-mortar threat remains highly active; it was reactivated in the last few weeks with a barrage level not seen since before Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.  In a repetition of a common terrorist practice, observed from the Gaza border to Afghanistan, the Hamas artillery detachment made sure to subject the paramedics working at the scene of the bus attack to mortar fire as well.

But the introduction of the Kornet ATGM represents an even harder-to-defend threat to the civilian population. Israel enforces a 300-meter buffer zone along the border inside Gaza, but the maximum range of the Kornet is 5500 meters.  This situation will become unsustainable at some point.

The converging campaigns Israel faces

A flashpoint may be helped along by the convergence of other anti-Israel plans: an organized call for a “Third Intifada” this spring (see here and here for a sample of posts on the campaign to get the Facebook page taken down) and the next Gaza flotilla being organized by the Turkish terrorist group IHH.  Both are intended to occur in May 2011; the “Third Intifada” is billed as being launched with a “march to Palestine” starting 15 May.

I would emphasize that these are separate plans by multiple groups; there may be an element of competition in their execution, which would complicate Israel’s defense strategy.  Hamas is aligned with Iran, and the planning for the Gaza flotilla is developing along much the same lines as last year’s, which featured extensive participation by Hamas associates in Europe.  (See here, here, and here for sample documentation of the usual suspects; see also the website of this US group, which is planning to deploy the M/V Audacity of Hope.)

Turkey’s IHH group, recognized by foreign intelligence agencies as having terror ties, is deeply involved with the upcoming Gaza flotilla, as it was with the one in 2010.  Besides its extensive ties to Hamas, IHH endorses and supports radical extremists among former (and self-described current) members of Fatah, like this one.

Fatah, which leads the PA, has its own vision for a “Palestinian” end-state, one that does not include a leadership role for Hamas or Iran.  There is no obvious overt-sponsorship connection between Fatah and the “Third Intifada” effort, which is apparently Sunni Arab in origin.  Indeed, many politically active Arabs view Fatah and the PA as corrupt and ineffective.  But there is a substantial Arabist contingent across the Middle East that may approve of Hamas trying to weaken Israel, but opposes the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas nexus.

The PA’s plan, meanwhile, is to directly seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in 2011.  Only a fool would suppose that a condition of such recognition by the UN General Assembly will be good behavior on the part of Fatah (or Hamas or Iran, for that matter) in the interim.

The bottom line for Israel, as things look today, is that there are multiple groups pursuing different but converging campaigns. That situation will be harder to deal with than one in which there is a more unified enemy.  Hamas’s particular objective appears to be drawing Israel into concerted military action – perhaps an operation in Gaza like Cast Lead.  With Hamas now able to target civilians with lethal accuracy from beyond the 300-meter buffer zone, the stakes and the opportunities for provocation have escalated significantly.

J.E. Dyer blogs at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions” and as The Optimistic Conservative.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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So there moving up to the major Leagues now. I would say that the next attack will be on TOP Official Leaders and such. Hold no mercy on these cowardly jihadis.

hawkman on April 9, 2011 at 1:37 PM

We think we have it bad with US media. Hamas gets to slaughter children in their home, and then fire guided missles, quick declare a cease-fire to prevent retaliation, immediately violate that cease-fire at will, and then sit back and enjoy world governments and the press chastising Israel.

paul1149 on April 9, 2011 at 1:42 PM

The West will remain ill-equipped to defend itself against Islam until the the Muslim sympathizer (or perhaps closet Muslim) is removed from office.

Basilsbest on April 9, 2011 at 1:53 PM


… Hamas attack on an Israeli school bus …

Yeah but the Israelis are bad guys (eye roll).

Tony737 on April 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Time for Israel to reclaim the Gaza (push all Palestinians into Egypt or the sea) – as a war prize – and all the West Bank land west of east Jerusalem (no Palestinians allowed in the new Jewish areas), with a warning that all West Bank land will be claimed if peace is not obtained…TOTAL peace, i.e. not even one Palestinian attack is acceptable.

Karmi on April 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Considering that Hamas has destroyed a unified Palestinian state, and that Hamas functions as the current government of Gaza, one could make the quite reasonable claim that Gaza and the State of Israel are in a state of war with each other.

Hence, it would be entirely appropriate for Israel to clear a 5500 meter buffer zone inside Gaza to prevent attacks of this type from occurring again. That is the least provocative response available to Isreal which allows protection of its citizens with the least loss of life to unarmed Palestinians.

Left unspoken here is where the weapons used by Hamas and Hezbollah came from. There’s the real enemy, and its people will, sooner or later, pay for their government’s policy.

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Karmi on April 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM

That’s quite a liberal outlook on life you have there, Karmi…

I have quite a bit of distaste for how Isreal is treating Palestinians with respect to rule of law around the areas undergoing settlement and in East Jerusalem, and you go and up the ante…

Proves once again that the Nazis were indeed liberals — everything is done in terms of the group, not the individual.

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Where is the UN condemnation of Palistinians using anti-tank weapons on civilian targets?

WHY has the Obama administration NOT even opened discussion of such a measure?

Freddy on April 9, 2011 at 2:13 PM

They’re using laser-guided missiles to blowup school busses.

Really, how sick can you get?

They won’t use it to target military installations. No, they use it for a school bus.

Scum.

SteveMG on April 9, 2011 at 2:14 PM

It might have been easy to miss this detail in the report of the Hamas attack on an Israeli school bus on 7 April,

…if you could find the report at all.

mankai on April 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM

As there are factions in Egypt that have pushed the idea that if Israel attacks HAMAS in Gaza, that Egypt will declare war on Israel, then Israel should put the diplomatic shoe on the other foot and say that if you are backing them in their attacks, then it is war you are declaring on us, via your proxy: Egypt either controls Gaza or gets a war by declaring its support for its attacks via defensive reaction.

That should go for any Nations backing terrorists against a Nation: they are your de facto military and diplomatic arm, and when you support them they become your liability to either pull back or have them determine your fate for you. Of course private war groups could be repudiated and treated as Pirates because that is what they are and a threat to all Nations… but that is the way civilized Nations act towards such things. We aren’t civilized any longer.

ajacksonian on April 9, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Thanks for the update, J.E. Appreciate fact.

Would seem that Hamas has at least one well trained Kornet operator so somebody has a practice facility. Use of expensive equipment on school bus says IDF is doing a lot of things right. Good on the bus driver.

Caststeel on April 9, 2011 at 2:30 PM

No one ever accused the Palestinians of having any intelligence. They’re evidently born with a “kick me” sign on their posteriors.

GarandFan on April 9, 2011 at 2:38 PM

If the rockets had hit the bus when it was full with 50+ kids, what the hell do they think would have been Israel’s response?

Hamas wan’t full out war.

Blake on April 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Hamas wants full out war…

Blake on April 9, 2011 at 2:41 PM

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Remind me once again why Israel is occupying “East Jerusalem.”

BigAlSouth on April 9, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Remind me once again why Israel is occupying “East Jerusalem.”

BigAlSouth on April 9, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Remind me why property rights are being violated there during said “occupation”? Are you perhaps suggesting that private property rights ought to change — that “to the victor the spoils” ought to prevail? See my response to your comment on the other thread.

I have the personal viewpoint that individuals should be secure in their persons and their possessions, and that retribution for an act should not be visited upon noncombatants. That goes for people who target school busses and for people who drive others off of those others’ property.

To think any other way is to give moral credence to this.

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Thanks for the update, J.E. Appreciate fact.

Would seem that Hamas has at least one well trained Kornet operator so somebody has a practice facility. Use of expensive equipment on school bus says IDF is doing a lot of things right. Good on the bus driver.

Caststeel on April 9, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Foolish use of an anti-tank round, which is built to penetrate many inches of armor at the initial point of impact, but doesn’t have much left once inside. This may have been practice for when they go up against something that can shoot back.

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2011 at 4:43 PM

If you want to know what the mark of the beast on the forehead looks like you need look no further than that photo.

iceman1960 on April 9, 2011 at 4:51 PM

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Like Communism, you words look good on paper; however, in a real world they come up empty and/or broke. The time has come for Israel to claim land/property that they need as a buffer zone from their many enemies in that area, which includes the Palestinians. BTW, Israel’s enemies are impossible to tell from so-called “noncombatants,” since they rarely wear uniforms – unless there are several Arab nations attacking them at once – whilst often hiding amongst so-called “noncombatants.” Palestinians have had their second and one-thousandth chances and deserve no more. Shooting at and/or blowing up Israeli school buses is really not usual or unexpected, since only the weapons change…

Karmi on April 9, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Did it make sense to abandon Gaza to these thugs? Making it one giant DMZ would have.

AshleyTKing on April 9, 2011 at 5:20 PM

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

No. There must be a detriment to those countries who launch attacks against others. If they fail, they must suffer the consequences. Otherwise, there is no detriment to war making.

Please don’t try to pull the “Oradour-sur-Glane” comparison to try to take the moral high ground with your argument. When Israel bulldozes East Jerusalem to the ground and murders every Arab speaking citizen, then and only then do you get to pull out your Oradour-sur-Glane.

BigAlSouth on April 9, 2011 at 5:23 PM

I no longer believe giving palestine it’s own state will get the arabs and israelis to kiss and make up and live happily ever after.

tinkerthinker on April 9, 2011 at 5:58 PM

Time for Israel to reclaim the Gaza (push all Palestinians into Egypt or the sea) – as a war prize – and all the West Bank land west of east Jerusalem (no Palestinians allowed in the new Jewish areas), with a warning that all West Bank land will be claimed if peace is not obtained…TOTAL peace, i.e. not even one Palestinian attack is acceptable.

Karmi on April 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Considering how the Palestinian leadership in both Gaza and the West Bank publicly or quietly support terrorist groups and how the Palestinian people dance in the streets when a successful attack occurs (not to mention the cartoons which train kids at a young age to be jihadists), Israel may have no other choice to protect themselves from these state of the art weapons.

Daemonocracy on April 9, 2011 at 7:03 PM

So one side in this conflict aims at children and cheers when they succeed, while the other side aims to miss the children (which are used as shields) and is remorseful when they fail. Does “uncle” believe there is a moral justification hidden somewhere in this equation? Uncle’s wisdom escapes me. His words are couched so as to cloud his meaning. I must be too simple to understand.

cdor on April 9, 2011 at 10:15 PM

If only the Israelis would stop their inhuman blockade of Gaza… anti-tank launchers with 3 mile ranges could get through!

Zionist Bastards!

profitsbeard on April 9, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Karmi on April 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM
That’s quite a liberal outlook on life you have there, Karmi…
I have quite a bit of distaste for how Isreal is treating Palestinians with respect to rule of law around the areas undergoing settlement and in East Jerusalem, and you go and up the ante…
Proves once again that the Nazis were indeed liberals — everything is done in terms of the group, not the individual.
unclesmrgol on April 9, 2011 at 2:12 PM

you should eff yourself and your pathetic attempts for ignorant animals

israel, especially after this cowardly attempt targeting children, should mop the floor with the muzzy monkeys

they would be doing the world favor culling these rabid semi-life forms from the earth

you really are a sheet bag to suggest that this is a valid form of real estate protest

if my kid got it in that manner there wouldn’t be a stinkin mosque pigpen standing and I wouldn’t wait for it to close

no more money so the monkeys can play government at our expense

let them live,… Let them die with their inferior abilities as the catalyst

eff Allah and his spawn

Sonosam on April 10, 2011 at 7:47 AM

And the stinkin libs are the supporters for these attrocities

and the lib/commie Jewish politicians are no better than a concentration camp trustee for the way they embrace these filthy, murderous animals

one day a Jewish politician may be able to explain their fondness of their murderers and as for the extremely weal argument by muzzy monkeys that cry croc tears for the filthy palis, they can ram it with a grenade up their arse since they wilfully ignore their own actual accounts to rid their lands of supposed infidels which in the end means their superior, more advanced types of humans

muzzy monkeys have been and are still the pawn of totalitarian commie types who need these feral pigs to fracture our system

kick them out of the west

Sonosam on April 10, 2011 at 7:57 AM