“Israel will do all it can to prevent Iran from re-arming Hamas after its losses in our Gaza operation,” said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz when he met new armored corps conscripts Sunday, Nov. 25.
But debkafile intelligence sources have learned that Saturday, Nov. 24, just three days after the Gaza ceasefire halted Israel’s eight-day operation to stop the latest Palestinian missile blitz, three Iranian missile engineers managed to steal into the Gaza Strip. Another three are on the way.
They are the first Iranian military personnel to land in the Gaza Strip, arriving from their regular base n Lebanon and entering Egypt on false passports.
Bedouin guides led the Iranians through secret smuggling trails in Sinai up to the Gaza Strip undetected by Egyptian surveillance. They entered Palestinian territory through one of the tunnels for smuggling arms and people which Israel bombers had blasted 72 hours before the ceasefire. Hamas carried out a rush job to make it fit for use.
The Iranian missile experts came to assess the performance of the Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 supplied by Tehran which Hamas fired against the Israeli population up to and during the Israeli operation. It is important for the Iranian arms industry to learn the accuracy of their products' aim and trajectory in battle conditions and how efficiently they functioned against the defensive wall set up by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
The Iranian engineers had an important finding to work with: On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the day before the ceasefire, Hamas rocket teams carried out an experiment against Israel’s wonder weapon: They fired a 16-rocket Grad salvo at Beersheba. Iron Dome blew up 8 in mid-air, 4 landed outside built-up areas but 4 made it into the heart of the town. A few minutes later Hamas started shooting 14 Grades in volley after volley just a few minutes apart – altogether 30 rockets at the same target in the space of two hours.
The score was 8 to 22 in favor of the Hamas tactic. The experiment was designed to assess the Iron Dome teams’ post-operation reloading speed – information which is a close IDF secret.
What the Palestinians learned from the Beersheba experiment was that their strength against the Israeli defense system lies in numbers: the bigger the multiple missile barrage, the greater its chances of penetrating Iron Dome cover and reaching urban targets. They accordingly put together large batteries of 6 to 8 rockets each side by side and fired them all at the same time from underground silos.
The launchers were then folded back underground for concealment.
debkafile’s military sources confirm that, like the Palestinians and Iranian missile engineers, the team which developed Iron Dome likewise used the Gaza operation as a testing ground. Certain improvements were introduced on the spot in the course of the hostilities. This process continues apace.
The Iranian missile experts arrived in Gaza from their regular duties with Hizballah rocket units in Lebanon, which are to see to the proper maintenance of Lebanese militia’s store of Iran-made weaponry and train its men in their use.
While there, the Iranians learned Arabic and so have no difficulty in communicating with Tehran’s Palestinian protégés, Hamas an Jihad Islami in Gaza.