By David Daoud
Gaza based terror group Hamas is attempting to bolster its capabilities with shorter range rockets, that have a maximum range of 30 kilometers, in order to bypass Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Seven months after Operation Protective Edge, the IDF’s Southern Command has concluded that the ongoing rocket trials being carried out by the terrorist organization are not focused on long-range rockets, principally because the Iron Dome system virtually neutralized them in the last engagement between the IDF and Hamas.
“Almost all of the trials being tested out to sea are short-range,” a senior IDF officer told Israel’s NRG news, adding that in recent months there were no long-range tests. “They are now working on improving their short-range rockets. I guess they learned their lessons and understood that Iron Dome will take down their long-range rockets. In fact, it has even become more difficult for them to smuggle these weapons into the Gaza Strip, since the tunnels and the Philadelphi Corridor are almost completely closed.”
The IDF is monitoring Hamas’ rocket experiments in order to gather intelligence, as well as develop knowledge on the progress of Hamas’ capabilities, and to see whether new rockets are being smuggled into Gaza or whether the production has become more domestic. The officer said that “so far, nothing new has happened, and almost all of the tests are short-range. The trials do not occur every day, but only once in a while. They may occur one after the other for a three day period, and then the next week there will be no tests at all. There are no special developments there.”
Southern Command also noted the quiet that has overtaken the border in recent months. Except for a few minor attempts at illegal border crossings, and the two recorded incidents of rockets being fired into Israel – in contrast with the days after Pillar of Defense where 10 months passed without incident – the border with Gaza is generally quiet.
However, the officials say, that does not mean that a blind eye can be turned to Hamas, which has already publicized that it has returned to building up the strengths of its forces in anticipation of the next battle with Israel. Israeli monitoring of developments in the Strip reveal that Hamas is up to much of its old habits, like digging tunnels and building rockets launchers. At least according to the surveillance and information available to Military Intelligence, there have been no new developments.