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GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime acquired U.S.-origin air defense systems but was unable to use them in combat.
Hamas sources said the Islamic military has acquired the Stinger man-portable air defense system. The sources said the Stingers were acquired from smugglers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2008 and deployed in the 22-day war against Israel in January 2009.
“We were disappointed by them, and they were found to have been useless,” a Hamas source said.
The source said Hamas smuggled four Stinger systems in 2008. The source said the Hamas military deployed the Stingers against Israel Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopters during strike missions in the northern Gaza Strip.
“Our gunners couldn’t fire the weapon,” the source recalled. “A notice came up on the display saying ‘friendly aircraft.'”
Industry sources said Raytheon, producer of Stinger, installed identification friend/foe capabilities more than a decade ago. The sources said this would prevent Stinger from being fired against any aircraft used by the U.S. military.
Another Hamas source said gunners deployed Stinger along with heavy machine guns in attacks on Israeli helicopters during the war in the Gaza Strip. The source said one Stinger surface-to-air missile was launched, but the projectile veered off course and struck a Hamas gunner squad.
“The Stinger was drawn by the heat of our guns rather than the engines of the Israeli helicopters,” the source said. “At that point, we stopped using this weapon.”
The sources said Hamas has abandoned plans to acquire additional Stingers. Instead, the Islamic army has been ordering the Russian-origin SA-16, or Igla-1, surface-to-air missile system, with a range of five kilometers.