Hamas has produced several dozen short-range rockets that can carry a relatively heavy explosive load, Army Radio reported Tuesday.The report described the rocket as “completely different than any weaponry we know from the direction of the Gaza Strip, regarding the weight of the explosive payload.”According to the report, 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.
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 its own 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, 4,594 rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel. 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.Although smuggling across the Egyptian border has decreased, Israel continues 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 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 terrorist group has restored its military capabilities to its pre-2014 strength, expecting that, in the next war, the southern communities bordering Gaza would be pounded incessantly by rocket and mortar attacks.In the event of a future war, the IDF’s Home Front Command has a contingency plan to evacuate residents who live in border communities.“We are prepared for every scenario and if we need to evacuate, we will evacuate,” Ashkelon Coast Regional Council head Yair Farjoun told Army Radio in response to the report. “Civilians do not need to be on the front lines.”During Operation Protective Edge, Israel relied on the Iron Dome system to intercept rockets.The recent addition of the David’s Sling missile-defense system will provide Israel with a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short- and mid-range missiles used by terrorist groups in Gaza.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
Hamas rocket arsenal as of July 2014 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON"S UNIT)