Artillery: Palestinian Terrorists Display Two Stage Rocket


p> July 25, 2007: A Palestinian terrorist organization (the al Quds Brigades) in the Gaza strip has displayed pictures of what it describes as a two stage, unguided rocket, made in Gaza, with a range of 20 kilometers. If true, this rocket, the "Quds 5" could reach the Israeli city of Ashkelon. With a population of 100,000, and 55 square kilometers in size, Ashkelon provides the densest target yet for Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza. Al Quds says they have several dozen of these new rockets, and have tested them over the last few months. The rocket is ten feet long, 250mm (ten inches) in diameter, weighs 90 pounds and carries a 16 pound warhead. Hamas had earlier said it was building a new, longer range, rocket that could reach Ashkelon. Al Quds said they had foreign (probably Iranian) assistance in designing and building their rocket. Ashkelon has been hit a few times in the last few months. Using a two stage design increases the risk of failure quite a bit, although it allows you to build a much lighter rocket. All other rockets with that range are single stage designs. Palestinian terrorists have been firing homemade "Kassam" (or "Quassam", or "Quds") rockets into Israel since 2001. The Hamas Palestinian terrorist organization designed the first Kassam in late 2001. This was the Kassam I, and is a 60mm weapon, about 31 inches long, weighing twelve pounds and carrying a one pound explosive charge. Its range is about three kilometers, and it is unguided. You aimed it and hoped for the best. In early 2002, Hamas began firing these at Jewish settlements in Gaza, and into southern Israel as well. By 2003, larger versions were built. There was the Kassam II, which weighed 70 pounds, is 150mm in diameter and six feet long. It has a range of eight kilometers, and a 11-15 pound warhead. It wasn't until June, 2004, that one of these Kassam rockets actually killed an Israeli. By then, about 200 Kassams had been fired into southern Israel.

Later came the Kassam III, which is 6.7 feet long, 170mm in diameter, has a range of about ten kilometers, and a warhead of 22-44 pounds. This one weighs about 200 pounds. There are many variations in these designs, and larger rockets have apparently been used as well.

By the end of 2005, over 400 Kassams had been fired at Israeli targets. About a third of them were the short range Kassam Is, fired at Israeli settlements in Gaza. The rest were larger Kassams fired into southern Israel. To date, about a thousand Kassams have been fired. For every 30-40 Kassams fired, an Israeli is killed or wounded. For every 2-3 Kassams fired, a Palestinian is killed or wounded by Israeli military operations against the firing sites and workshops that build the rockets.

Iranian technical experts, and Iranian made rocket components are now showing up. These are being smuggled in via tunnels crossing under the border with Egypt. Since earlier this year, it was believed that Hamas was trying to get Iranian assistance in building rockets that can reach more densely populated areas of Israel. This would take a rocket with a range of 20 kilometers or more. The Palestinians have tried to smuggle in factory made rockets, but these are too large to easily get through the tunnels. So the best option appears to build better Kassams. It's uncertain if the al Quds group has done so.

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