In March 2005, then Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told senior US officials that some Strela antiaircraft missiles had made their way into the Gaza Strip. Six months later, senior Israeli official Amos Gilad told US officials that “thousands of rifles, rockets, rocket propelled grenades, and maybe even Strela missiles” had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
The following December, the then Director General of the Multinational Force & Observers, Ambassador James Larocco, told a conference that the MFO had stopped conducting helicopter flights near the Gaza border due to the presence of Strela missiles, among other weapons.
Almost four years later, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that 200 surface-to-air missiles destined for the Gaza Strip had been seized by Egyptian authorities in the Sinai. Unidentified Israeli sources told Haaretz that the missiles were likely Strela missiles. Then, in October 2011, Haaretz reported that Hamas was taking advantage of the looting of weapon stockpiles in Libya and increasing its antiaircraft arsenal.
The following October, the Israeli Defense Force confirmed that Palestinian terrorists operating in the Gaza Strip had fired their first Strela 2 (SA-7 Grail) missile at an IDF helicopter operating over Gaza. Around the same time, the Associated Press reported that a senior Israeli official was warning that “Gaza is being flooded with sophisticated weapons from Libya,” including antiaircraft missiles.
Despite all of these reports, there had rarely been hard evidence that Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip were in possession of the Strela 2.
Photos and video from Gaza, however, provide clear evidence that at least three terror groups — Hamas, Al Ansar Brigades, and the al Nasser Salah al Deen Brigades — are in possession of Strela 2s. It is likely that other terror groups in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave, in particular Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), are in possession of the weapon as well. Earlier this year, PIJ, an Iranian-backed terror group, released a poorly photoshopped poster that included the Strela 2.