They either smuggle the parts or manufacture them themselves, with help from Iran.
They are reusing sewer lines found in abandoned Israeli settlements and components caught in Israeli bombs that did not explode. They mount rockets underground or in densely populated areas that the Israelis are reluctant to attack.
Despite Israel’s widespread surveillance capabilities and overwhelming firepower, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have managed to build up a vast arsenal of long-range rockets in the past 16 years since Israel left Israel. coastal enclave it had occupied after the 1967 war.
The militant group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, has turned this arsenal into an increasingly deadly threat, as evidenced by the latest upsurge in hostilities with Israeli forces. According to Israeli officials, on Thursday the 13th, the militants had already fired some 1,800 rockets.
This arsenal is insignificant compared to the enormous destructive power of the Israeli Air Force.
But for the Israelis, the rockets are the tools of an entity that their country and many others see as a terrorist group rooted among the nearly 2 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. For many Palestinians, the rockets simply symbolize resistance to Israeli domination and occupation.
How many rockets have Hamas and its allies accumulated?
The Israeli intelligence services estimate that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian militant organizations jointly have some 30,000 rockets and mortar shells stored in the Gaza Strip. The rockets have different ranges and lack a guidance system, but militants were able to improve their accuracy.
What’s new in the latest rounds launched from the Gaza Strip?
The number of rockets fired each day during the latest wave of hostilities is unusual. Although most of the rockets appear to target population centers in southern and central Israel, longer range rockets have been fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. For experts, this is a sign that Hamas has not only succeeded in rebuilding its arsenal, but has improved its capabilities.
Some Israeli commanders are surprised by the intensity and range of rockets fired from Gaza
An analysis by Michael Armstrong, assistant professor of operations research at Brock University in Canada, found a significant increase in launch intensity. Using figures from the Israel Defense Forces, Armstrong, who studies these weapons, cited 470 rockets fired from Gaza in the first 24 hours of the latest escalation in hostilities. For comparison, the highest fire intensity in 2014 was 192 rockets in one day and 312 in 2012.
According to Armstrong, Hamas also launched more long-range attacks, firing 130 rockets at Tel Aviv on Tuesday night (11) – 17% of all rockets launched at this point. In 2014, this number was 8% and in 2012, it did not reach 1%.
Why can’t the Israeli forces destroy all the rockets while they are still in the air?
With its Iron Dome missile defense system, Israel has already destroyed many rockets before they fall. But more and more rockets are hitting Israeli territory, some with deadly effects. Experts say militants now know that the intensity of the bursts, in addition to the rockets being launched in multiple directions, exposed vulnerabilities in the Israeli defense.
“It appears they are looking to overload or saturate Israel’s interception system, which can only handle a certain number of attacks at the same time,” Armstrong said.
What are the ranges of these rockets?
A considerable part of the arsenal is said to be short-range rockets, known as Qassams, a name derived from the military wing of Hamas. They have an approximate range of 10 kilometers and are easier and cheaper to manufacture than longer range weapons. Their trajectories are unpredictable; some fall under the Gaza Strip itself.
The arsenal’s medium-range rockets, based on Iranian and Russian designs, can hit targets up to 40 km away, hitting Israeli targets as far away as the Tel Aviv suburbs. It is believed that versions of these weapons are produced in the Gaza Strip. Longer-range rockets are capable of reaching Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion Airport.
These include the M-75, a locally made rocket with technology supplied by Iran, and the J-80, made locally and named after famed Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed in 2012 during an airstrike. Israeli. The numbers refer to their estimated distances in kilometers. On Thursday (13), Hamas said in a statement that it had a missile with a range of 250 km that could reach any point in Israel.
How did the activists in the Gaza Strip preserve and even expand their arsenal?
In the past, medium and long range rockets were often smuggled through tunnels dug along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. In some cases, they were transported in parts and then assembled in Gaza.
But in recent years, with Egypt making increasing efforts to block and destroy the tunnels, the smuggling of entire rockets has become much more of a problem. Thus, Hamas and its affiliated entities in the Gaza Strip have developed their own productive capacity.
Michael Herzog, Israel-based international member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Brigadier General, said the Israeli military and intelligence services are very much more concerned about militants’ rocket production capacity than they were. in the past with their ability to import them. According to Herzog, “the IDF’s objective now is to attack production facilities, so that when this combat cycle is over, not only will there be less rockets but also less capacity to produce them.”
Who is helping Hamas and its allies achieve this capability?
Activists in the Gaza Strip openly attribute their success to the aid provided by Iran, which Israel regards as its biggest external adversary. Iranian officials are also not reluctant to talk about their dealings with Hamas. In a big meeting in May 2019, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, could not have been more explicit in acknowledging Iran’s crucial role.
“We wouldn’t have these capabilities without Iran’s support,” he said. In addition to providing smuggled weapons and equipment, Iran has been training to help Hamas improve local production, expand the range of rockets, and improve accuracy. The information comes from Palestinian and Israeli authorities and experts. “Going from launching one or two rockets at a time to 130 rockets in five minutes is a huge improvement,” Gaza-based military expert Rami Abu Zubaydah said of the frequency of fire in recent days.
“Today most of the weapons are produced in Gaza, using Iran’s technical knowledge.”
How else did the rocket makers in Gaza get around the blockade?
Although they have yet to smuggle coins and raw materials, Hamas leaders say the organization has found creative ways to bypass increased border controls and surveillance. A 50-minute documentary released in September by Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera showed rare scenes of Hamas militants recovering dozens of Israeli missiles left over from previous attacks on Gaza that had not detonated.
They took the remains to what appeared to be a hidden manufacturing site, carefully extracted the explosives from inside the missiles, and recycled some of the parts. The same documentary also showed activists digging up old water pipes in places previously occupied by Israeli settlements and recycling empty cylinders for use in the production of new rockets. At another meeting in 2019, Sinwar discussed the use of reused sewer lines, saying, “There is enough material out there to make rockets for the next ten years.”