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Israelis living and serving security in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip report that Hamas snipers have been harassing them in recent weeks as a scare tactic, which appears to be evolving into a major offensive. Only very few of these incidents have been reported – and dismissed by military officials as “stray bullets” – although witnesses have spotted snipers shooting out of the windows of high-rise buildings in the Gaza Strip.
While the rebuilding of terror tunnels which the Israeli military demolished in last summer’s war continues apace, the cash-strapped Palestinian extremists have now hit on stealthy sniper fire as a less expensive, less detectable and easier means of unnerving Israelis across the border.
The shooters take aim from a hidden firing position and, before they can be located and pinned down, flit to the next point and resume shooting at an unpredictable target. This tactic is designed to unsettle the Israeli civilians living in the region and the troops securing it, while boosting morale in the ranks of their own military wing after the devastation it suffered last year.
In the last stage of last year’s operation, an IDF Givati Brigade auxiliary company discovered two Austrian Steyr HS.50 snipers rifles in a two-storey building outside the southern Gaza town of Khan Younes. This weapon had a basic effective range of around two kilometers using 0.5 inch caliber bullets.
The Austrian manufacturer sold Iran thousands of these sniper’s rifles between 2006 and 2009. Only a small part of this transaction was disclosed. However, a substantial quantity was shipped in unopened crates to the Gaza Strip via Sudan and the smuggling tunnels of Sinai to their destination in the Gaza Strip, Hamas’ Ezz e-din Al-Qassam armed wing.
To disguise the Steyr’s provenance, Hamas pretended it was homemade under the label Ghoul.
Full article: Sniper fire from Gaza as part of Hamas’ massive buildup for next war (DEBKAfile)