Artillery: Hamas Has A Secret Weapon


May 20,2008: Israel knows that Hamas has been stockpiling an arsenal of rockets in Gaza, and may be bringing in some with a range of up to 40 kilometers. Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas currently has, in Gaza, several hundred factory made BM-21 rockets, each with a range of 20 kilometers. They also have some shorter range (six kilometers) B-12 rockets. These are not smuggled in much, because the locally made Kassam II has about the same range. However, the B-12 is more reliable (more reliable trajectory and fuze, so more are likely to land where aimed and explode.)

The B-12 is a 107mm, 42 pound, 107mm, 33 inch long, Russian designed rocket that is very popular with terrorists. This rocket has a range of about six kilometers and three pounds of explosives in its warhead. Normally fired, from a launcher, in salvoes of dozens at a time, when used individually, it is more accurate the closer it is to the target. This 107mm design has been copied by many nations, and is very popular with guerillas and terrorists because of its small size and portability.

The 122mm BM-21s weigh 150 pounds and are nine feet long. These have 45 pound warheads, but not much better accuracy than the 107mm model. However, these larger rockets have a maximum range of 20 kilometers. Again, because they are unguided, they are only effective if fired in salvos, or at large targets (like cities, or large military bases or industrial complexes.)

Most of the rockets fired are the homemade "Kassam" (or "Quassam", or "Quds") rockets. These began landing in Israel during late 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. In the next six months, another 600 rockets were fired. 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.

About a thousand Kassams were fired into Israel during 2006. This doubled, to two thousand in 2007, and during the first four months of 2008, another 2,000 were fired. To date, over 7,000 Kassams have been fired, plus a few dozen factory made rockets and nearly a thousand mortar shells. For every 30-40 Kassams fired, an Israeli is killed or wounded. Until this year, 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. For the last six months or so, the Israelis have been more precise in their retaliation, trying to limit Palestinian civilian casualties. For the Palestinians, causing Israeli civilian casualties is their main goal.

Hamas has concluded that suicide bombings, and similar terrorist attacks inside Israel are too difficult because of effective counter-terror attacks. But the rockets work, sort of. While they don't cause many Israeli casualties, Israeli counter-measures kill more Palestinians, which are useful for diplomatic and propaganda reasons. Dead women and children are particularly useful, which is why the rockets are often launched from residential neighborhoods, and young teenagers are encouraged to get involved with the rocket launching operations.

The Israelis believe that, if left alone, Hamas will have rockets with a range of 40 kilometers, within two years, if not already. The 20 and 40 kilometer rockets will only be used for a decisive battle, one Hamas feels it has a chance of winning. That's because the Israelis will most likely invade Gaza and destroy Hamas if such rockets are used in large numbers. Hamas has hopes that someday soon they will attacking in conjunction with Hizbollah (firing rockets into northern Israel), and Iran firing rockets into Tel Aviv. Or something like that. So far, most Hamas war plans appear to have been created more for their propaganda impact, than for their practicality.

So far, the war the Palestinians began in late 2000, has left 5,800 people dead, 82 percent of them Palestinians.


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