katyushas 298 .88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Islamic Jihad group said Wednesday it has "many" Russian-made Katyusha rockets with a range of up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) that it can launch at Israel from the Gaza Strip.
The group issued a statement after it fired, for the first time, such a rocket from Gaza toward Israel on Tuesday. In the recent years, Palestinians have fired hundreds of homemade Kassam rockets with a range of about 10 kilometers (six miles) and small explosive warheads.
The Kassams have fallen short of the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, the largest near Gaza. However, the Katyushas could easily reach Ashkelon, and Israeli security officials said they were worried about the escalation.
Islamic Jihad said the Grad version of the Katyusha is 2.8 meters (yards) long, weighs 66 kilograms (145 pounds) and has a caliber of 122 mm, according to Islamic Jihad. It carries a 17-kilogram (37 pounds) warhead and has a range of between 18 (11 miles) and 30 kilometers (19 miles).
Abu Abdullah, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said the rockets were made in Russia and smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. Taking its inspiration from the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbullah, which attacked northern Israel with Katyusha rockets to force Israel to evacuate southern Lebanon, Islamic Jihad planned to use the rockets to try to force Israel to evacuate land adjacent to Gaza, he said.
"These rockets, God willing, will be the reason for liberating the villages adjacent to the Gaza Strip," he said.
He said any Israeli attacks on Islamic Jihad would be met with a "quick response." Israel has repeatedly conducted raids in recent months against Islamic Jihad, which has been responsible for all seven suicide bombings against Israel since an informal cease-fire took hold last year.
Abdullah said Islamic Jihad was studying the rockets in their possession to try to develop similar ones of their own.