By Aryeh Savir
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip have several thousands of rockets with a maximum range that enables them to attack central Israel and even further north. The terrorist groups have managed to upgrade their rocket arsenal, through both local production and smuggling, increasing their capabilities both quantitatively and qualitatively, this according to a report issued by the Meit Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).
The terror organizations have two types of rockets in their possession. The first type is standard military rockets, smuggled into the Gaza Strip by sea and overland, most of them originating from Iran. To smuggle them into the Gaza Strip Iran has constructed a complex system that crosses borders and includes sea and overland routes. Sudan is the key country in the system; the arms are brought there by ship and then transferred overland by networks of professional smugglers into the Gaza Strip. The most recent smuggle attempt prevented by the Israeli navy was on March 5th, 2014, when it intercepted a shipload of long-range M302 rockets manufactured in Syria and sent to the Gaza Strip by Iran through Sudan on board the ship Klos-C. These long range M302 rockets have been fired at Israel in recent days, hitting as far as northen Hadera.
The second type of rocket is the locally developed and produced rockets. The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip try to develop and produce advanced rockets locally, including rockets with ranges of up to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles), this according to a lecture given by Brigadier General Itay Brun, head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Analysis and Production Unit. The technical know-how used by the terrorist organizations to manufacture medium-range rockets also comes from Iran. During Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ 8″ M75 rockets manufactured by Hamas in the Gaza Strip were used to attack the center of Israel. The efforts invested in locally developing and manufacturing rockets is the result of the difficulties faced by the terrorist organizations in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. The difficulties are also caused by the preventive activities carried out by Egypt, which has lately taken intensive action against the tunnels..
According to Brigadier General Brun, the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have doubled the quantities of rockets they had during Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’.
These rockets consist of several hundred rockets with ranges of up to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles), rockets which can reach all the areas of central Israel and Jerusalem, such as the Fajr-5 (“dawn”) Iranian rockets, medium range artillery produced by Iran since 1991, apparently with aid from the North Koreans. Attacking Israel with Fajr-5 rockets during Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ became an important factor in the “victory myth” perpetuated by Hamas and the PIJ. The rocket that seriously damaged a residential building in Rishon Letzion, south of Tel Aviv, on November 20, 2012, during Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, was a Fajr-5.
The terrorist organizations also have several thousand rockets with ranges of up to 40 kilometers (about 25 miles), rockets that can reach Beersheba, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi in southern Israel, and several thousand rockets with ranges of up to 20 kilometers (about 12.5 miles), rockets which can reach Sderot and Ashkelon in the western Negev. Thiscategory includes 122mm Grad rockets, mostly made in China. To facilitate smuggling them into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels the Iranians created a standard rocket composed of four sections enabling it to be dismantled. The terrorist organizations also have mortars of various diameters, including 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, and mortars manufactured locally with ranges of between three and ten kilometers. In addition they have anti-tank rockets among them PG-7s and PG-29s, and anti-tank missiles such at the AT-4 Fagot, the AT-5 Konkurs and the AT-4 Kornet.
The ITIC’s report concludes with a grim bottom line – the rocket threat to the Israeli home front has increased since Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’. According to Brigadier General Brun, the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have double the number of rockets they had in Operation Pillar of Defense. The increase noted by Brigadier General Brun is both quantitative and qualitative. That means that an increase in the number of rockets which can reach the central part of Israel is within the terrorist organizations’ long-term process of military buildup. Thus Hamas, the PIJ and the other terrorist organizations have managed to upgrade their rocket arsenal, through both local production and smuggling. The upgrade was clearly demonstrated in Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ and now in Operation ‘Protective Edge’ by the extent, intense nature, improved quality of the rockets and the increase in their ranges.
Tazpit News Agency