Ezz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of HAMAS was first introduced to ATGMs in 2011 after the fall of Muammar Al-Qazzafi (Gaddafi) in Libya when his (in fact the Libyan state’s) armories were widely opened, and some of this stock found its way into Gaza strip.
In 2012 when Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud against Gaza after assassinating Ahmad Al-Jabari (the 2nd in command of Al-Qassam Brigades, after Mohammed Al-Deif the general commander), HAMAS military wing revealed their ownership of ATGMs in a practical way by filming a 9M133 Kornet targeting an IDF’s Merkava MBT.
Al-Qassam, which previously relied on their local made arsenal of anti-armor weaponry, formed a unit specialized in operating ATGMs and named it “Anti-Armor Unit” and sometimes called the Armor Unit وحدة الدروع which is active to present day and also served in 2014 war and later.
In 2021 when HAMAS launched Operation Jerusalem Sword, this unit was responsible for destroying an IDF’s Land Rover Defender 4×4 vehicle (estimated to be 4000 meters away) and a military bus (which was estimated to be around 5000 meters away). Also, since IDF tanks were ordered not to approach near Gaza’s borders with several kilometers due to their previous losses, no MBTs were hit since Israel didn’t even declare a ground operation against Gaza and only performed air and artillery strikes.
Al-Jazeera News Channel reporter “Mohamed Wishah” made a reportage about this unit and met them in person revealing some of the interesting facts they have. The reporter walked through a long tunnel padded with concrete to retain support after IDF strikes (according to the reporter that tunnel wasn’t touched). After a quick interview in the tunnel with a company leader of the unit, they demonstrated how the group deploy their weapons moving from underground to their ambush post.
In order to make the operator master the usage of these kinds of missiles, extensive training is a must, and with a limited number of ATGMs (the exact number is unknown) and high cost for every missile noting that HAMAS is only a resistance movement and not able to fund all these missiles purchases and also under siege, Al-Qassam engineers developed training simulators to help their fighters to practice not hundreds but thousands of shots according to them. Which creates highly trained fighters with minimal possible cost.
In some military parades, Al-Qassam revealed some of their weaponry and this gives us an opportunity to see how far did they go (sometimes they keep new stuff as surprises for the IDF and reveal during battles only).
In-Depth Look at Anti-Armour Unit of Al-Qassam -The Firearm Blog is written by Marawan Maklad for www.thefirearmblog.com