Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization has managed to amass an advanced arsenal as it prepares to wage war against Israel, despite the best efforts of the Jewish State to prevent the entry of materials that would allow the group to manufacture the advanced weapons. With the help of a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Israel National News provides an inside look at the group's war machine.
A detailed description of the weaponry is posted on the web site of the group's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, explaining the new weapons that have been stockpiled, in addition to the various types of short-range Kassam rockets already produced by Hamas.
The list begins with a description of three different types of home-grown Kassam rockets.
Kassam Rockets... and others
With a somewhat dismissive attitude, the site describes the original, first 70 cm-long Kassam rocket as one that cannot be accurately aimed at a target and which has a range of only 2-3 kilometers, or approximately one mile.
The second rocket to be locally produced is more than double in length and triple in range. According to the description on the site, “Kassam 2” is 180 cm long, and has a range of 9-12 kilometers, 5-8 miles, which “enables it to reach the Zionist population centers.” The rocket is aimed with a compass, explains the site – although it carefully avoids mentioning whether or not it can be accurately directed towards a target. It cannot be operated remotely, the site goes on to say, and requires mounting on a tripod launcher.
The “Kassam 3” rocket is the most advanced of the Kassam series and is the one most recently used in the terrorist group's short-range attacks on Israel.
Also included in the Hamas arsenal are the Al-Bana 1 and 2 and Al-Batar missiles.
The Al-Bana rocket launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon, was developed by the Al Qassam Brigades. It was made from raw materials smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels under the Egyptian border during the Second Intifada.
However, the Al-Bana is no longer used by Hamas; intelligence sources indicate that it was replaced in 2003 by the more sophisticated Al-Batar. It is a one meter-long anti-tank rocket with a six-inch caliber, containing a mortar and with a range of up to one kilometer. It carries at least four kilograms of explosives and can hit precise targets, but it must be mounted on the ground. It is operated by remote control, which means the operator can be located at some distance away.
In 2004, the group developed and added the Al-Yasin anti-tank missile to the arsenal.
The Al-Yasin anti-tank missile, fired by individual fighters from the shoulder, is the most recent such element in the Hamas arsenal. An ordnance that pierces armor, it is extremely useful in fighting against tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) and other military vehicles. A second model, also listed, is designed to target personnel and facilities, according to the site.
The launcher is a hollow tube that opens at both ends, with an interior diameter of 40 mm and a mechanism for setting the aim. The range of the missile reaches up to 150 meters.
'Made in Palestine' ?
Each rocket produced in Gaza is stamped with the words, “Made in Palestine.”
It is interesting to note that nowhere on the site is a description of the more-recently employed, and exponentially more powerful Grad-class Katyusha missiles, known in Gaza as the Al-Quds 3.
The rockets were allegedly developed in Gaza, albeit with Iranian technical assistance, according to intelligence sources. The technology is based on the Russian Grad rocket and the BM21 Katyusha missile, and the rockets have a range of up to 30 kilometers -- allowing them to reach as far north as Ashkelon, Ashdod, Netivot and Ofakim, and as far east as Be'er Sheva
The Al-Quds 3, known in Israel as "Grads" or "Grad Katyushas" were fired at the Jewish State already in 2006, prior to the launch of Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009, the IDF's attempt to quell the thousands of rocket and mortar attacks fired constantly from the region against civilians in southern Israel. Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, Gaza terrorists have fired approximately 400 rockets and mortars at civilians living in Israel's southern region, although most have been single launches of short-range Kassam rockets.
Recently, however, Hamas has again begun to launch Grad missile attacks as well, including one less than two weeks ago that targeted a residential neighborhood in the coastal city of Ashkelon.
Last week, the terrorist group launched a similar attack on the twin cities of Eilat and Aqaba, located in Israel and Jordan, respectively, as rockets landed in both resort cities as well as in the Red Sea. It is believed that Hamas managed to smuggle operatives and missiles out of Gaza and into the Sinai Peninsula, from where the attack was launched. One Jordanian citizen was killed, and several others were wounded.
At one point, Hamas also manufactured Uzi sub-machine guns, but it has since ceased production since the factories were raided by the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority government several years ago.
Mortars of varying calibers are also being stockpiled in Gaza, and comprise an important part of the Hamas arsenal. According to the site, the terrorist group has fired both 60 mm and 80 mm mortars at IDF military posts and Jewish communities on both sides of the Gaza security fence.
“With time, as medium caliber mortars were produced, [Hamas] began to use them to crush a greater number of [Jewish communities] and military posts located [in Gaza], causing loss and damage of life and property,” a statement on the site boasted.
“A prominent [example] was the [community of] Neve Dekalim, which received a hefty share of these mortarts... that troubled the Zionist enemy and hastened its retreat from the Gaza Strip, thanks to the constant hits and the heavy losses the occupation suffered.”
The statement goes on to describe newer, larger caliber mortars that have begun to replace the use of the shorter-range Kassam rockets in attacks on Jewish communities in the Gaza Belt region. These mortars are able to reach farther north, and threaten communities such as Zikim, Miflasim, Kfar Aza and Kfar Sa'ad, among others, the site explains.
Explosively-Formed Penetrator (EFP)
The EFP is an explosive charge designed to pierce armor, designed by the Al-Qassam Brigades. According to the site, four IDF soldiers were killed in a Merkava tank by one such charge in 2003. The advantage of the EFP, explains Hamas, is that a very small amount of explosive is needed to detonate the charge.
“To blow up a Zionist tank with a roadside bomb, for example, a large amount of explosives is needed--up to 200 kilograms (220 pounds)," the site explains. Moreover, "only trained professionals can easily manufacture [such a] charge. Therefore the Al-Qassam [fighters] worked to develop charges that use as little [explosive] as possible, not exceeding 25 kg...
“The charge's components and manufacturing method are simple and straightforward, and a jihad fighter can manufacture, prepare, plant and detonate this charge easily.”
Included among the weapons of Hamas is the explosive belt used by suicide bombers in terrorist attacks on Israel's civilian population – referred to as "martyrdom attacks" on the site. “Several types of locally manufactured weapons were introduced into the combat arena... from simple materials that are readily available in local markets,” the terrorist group boasts.
Terrorist engineer Yahya Ayyash (whose nom de guerre was 'The Engineer') “used them to manufacture explosive bents that served the Al-Qassam "mujahideen" in their martyrdom operations, as well as destructive charges that were detonated in various locations..." the site explains.
"These ticking human bombs also continued [to be used] when the Al-Aqsa Intifada began, and the martyrdom operations became a strategic weapon which the enemy fears and anticipates.”
Various types of grenades are also part of the Hamas arsenal, and are made of plastic and iron.
Unlike the typical, smaller hand grenades, these are fired from a launcher and have a range of more than 150 meters, according to the group's web site. Each is stamped with a serial number.