Israel has Rafael, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Hamas has
Dirar Abu Sisi, the so-called “Rocket Godfather” of the Gaza Strip.
2005, Hamas’s Kassam rockets had a range of about 6 kilometers.RELATED:Shin Bet files indictment against ‘rocket godfather’
that year, the range jumped to 15 km., and then in 2007 to 22 km.
2002, Hamas’s domestically manufactured anti-tank missile known as “Yassin” was
capable of penetrating 6 cm of armor. By 2008, it could penetrate 26
The allegations raised against Abu Sisi in the Beersheba District
Court on Monday tell the story of a different kind of terrorist – not the one
who opens fire at IDF troops or plants bombs along the Gaza border, but of the
brains behind it all.
Abu Sisi appears, from the indictment, to have been
a critical asset for Hamas, whose recruitment into the ranks of Izzadin Kassam
in 2002 helped turn a terrorist organization once notorious for suicide bombers
into a military force with capabilities of strategic implications for the State
As Israel continues to call on the United Nations to dismiss
the Goldstone Report – following Judge Richard Goldstone’s retraction over the
weekend – one cannot help but think that had it not been for Abu Sisi, Israel
might not have been forced to embark on Operation Cast Lead in 2009, since the
rocket threat against Israel would not have been as severe.
would be naïve. Had it not been Abu Sisi, Hamas would have obtained its military
technology elsewhere, either by smuggling in larger amounts of longer-range
missiles from Iran and Syria or by recruiting a different Palestinian
What made Abu Sisi unique was that he had studied in Ukraine in
the late 1990s in the Kharkov military academy, under a professor who had been
one of the key developers in the Soviet Scud missile program.
Sisi was allowed to sit in on classes and learn about missile design, boosters,
stabilizers and different power sources.
Monday’s indictment against Abu
Sisi is also unique. First, it is longer than most indictments filed in Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) investigations and goes into extreme detail – such as
the exact number of centimeters of armor the anti-tank missiles he developed can
penetrate – as if the prosecution or the Shin Bet felt like it needed to justify
the saga behind his arrest.
Second, it provides unprecedented insight
into the Hamas military wing and how it has turned into a military one would
expect to see in a country – not just with brigades, battalions and special
forces, but also with an in-house defense industry.
Hamas’s interest in
establishing a Gaza-based weapons production capability is likely a sign of the
organization’s ultimate desire to become independent one day of its patrons in
Tehran and Damascus. It could also be a sign of Hamas concern that one day
Israel, Egypt and the rest of the world will begin to take more effective steps
to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza, meaning that its supply from Iran will slow
It is unclear what effect the removal of Abu Sisi from Gaza will
have on Hamas and its military capabilities. Was he working on developing a new
weapon for Hamas? Has he already trained replacements and successors? In
addition, was this history of his – as revealed in the indictment – enough to
justify an operation to capture Abu Sisi in Ukraine, as foreign reports suggest
Israel did? This might have been the case. Many of the details surrounding him
and his arrest are still banned for publication.
Either way, as Abu
Sisi’s story demonstrates, half of the country is already within range of
Hamas’s rockets. The question now is whether the IDF can deter Hamas from firing