Report: Hamas develops new ‘high-powered’ rocket akin to Hezbollah projectiles

Source: Report: Hamas develops new ‘high-powered’ rocket akin to Hezbollah projectiles – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

March 28, 2017 12:44

While Hezbollah has similar rockets, this is the first time that Hamas has developed such a weapon, Army Radio reports.
gaza rocket

A rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Hamas has recently developed a new high-powered rocket of which it has already produced several dozen, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the rocket is short-range and can carry a relatively heavy explosive load. In the event of a future conflict between Israel and Hamas, the new rocket would have the most effect on the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

The report described the rocket as “completely different than any weaponry we know from the direction of the Strip – as concerns the weight of the explosive carried in the head of the rocket.”

While Hezbollah has similar rockets, this is the first time that Hamas has developed such a weapon, the report added.

Weapons smuggling into the Hamas-run enclave from the Sinai Peninsula has decreased due to the group’s efforts to improve ties with Egypt, leading Hamas to invest in producing their own locally-made rockets. Hamas has boasted of its growing arsenal, testing its stockpile on an almost regular basis since the conclusion of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

During the war, a total of 4,594 rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel and near the end of the conflict, Hamas focused on short-range mortar fire, with deadly results, killing both soldiers and civilians who had little or no warning of incoming projectiles.

While smuggling through the Egyptian border has gone down, Israeli authorities continue to intercept illicit goods heading for Hamas on a regular basis at crossings from Israel into the Strip.

Last year, the Defense Ministry’s Crossings Authority and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) discovered a shipment of hundreds of metal pipes with a diameter of four inches, special screw holes  used to manufacture mortars and rockets, and dozens of electric engines for tunnel digging at the Tarkumiya checkpoint near Hebron.

The IDF has warned that the terror group has restored its military capabilities to its pre-2014 strength, expecting that in the next war the southern communities bordering the Stip would be incessantly pounded with rockets and mortar attacks.

In the event of a future war in the area, the IDF’s Home Front Command has a contingency plan to evacuate residents who live in those border communities,  in response to the report, Ashkelon Coast Regional Council head Yair Farjoun told Army Radio

“We are prepared for every scenario and if we need to evacuate, we will evacuate. Civilians do not need to be on the front lines.”

While during Operation Protective Edge Israel relied on the Iron Dome system to intercept rockets, the addition of the David’s Sling missile defense system will see Israel have a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza.

Tuesday’s report came as tensions have been high on the Gaza border in recent days after Hamas accused Israel of being behind the assassination of one of its senior operatives, Mazen Fuqaha, in Gaza on Friday.

Addressing the assassination in a speech in Qatar on Monday, Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal warned that following Fuqaha’s assassination the group was in “an open war against the criminal enemy.”

“By killing Faqha, the enemy told us: ‘I’ve scored a point against you and I can take away one of your heroes even in the heart of Gaza,” Mashaal said via video link, adding that “it’s a new blood debt that adds itself to all those before.”

Mashaal warned that “the conflict with the occupier is still ongoing and we, the leaders of the organization, accept the challenge. If the enemy changes the equation, we accept it and bear the responsibility to protect our sons and daughters. We adhere to the struggle to free our prisoners, to liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. Our willpower is stronger than their weapons, and in the end, we will triumph.”

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