Terrorists threaten to upgrade missiles

Aksa Brigades warn that 25-km range 'Grad' will be used if buffer zone enabled.

kassam drill 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
kassam drill 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Three armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday threatened to continue their attacks on Israel and said they have long-range missiles capable of reaching more Israeli towns and cities. One of the groups belongs to Fatah, the ruling party headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The two others are the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, and al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. PA officials in Ramallah expressed deep concern over the threats and said Israel was responsible for the latest cycle of violence. "Israel must stop its military offensive before the situation gets out of control," a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "Israel's decision to set up a security zone [in the northern Gaza Strip] will only complicate matters." Asked about the new long-range missiles, the official said he did not rule out the possibility that such weapons had been smuggled from Egypt in recent weeks. Representatives of the three armed groups appeared at a joint press conference in Gaza City, where they said attacks on Israel would continue following of Israel's decision to establish a security zone in the northern Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks. "The security zone will never bring security to Israel," said one of the gunmen. "As the Zionist enemy is in a state of confusion because of our painful attacks, the war leaders of the Zionist enemy are threatening to wage a merciless war on our people and their freedom fighters." A leaflet distributed by the three groups said the current truce with Israel "went to hell" because of Israel's policy of targeted killings. "Launching rocket attacks is one of the means of resistance and soon there will be surprises," the leaflet warned. Earlier, the armed wing of Fatah, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed that it possessed Grad missiles with a range of 25 kilometers. "If Israel sets up a security zone in the northern Gaza Strip our group will not sit idly by," warned Abu Fadi, a spokesman for the group in the Gaza Strip. "We will use these weapons and the occupation government will be the biggest loser due to its own actions." "Members of the [Fatah] rocket unit are capable of hitting targets deep in the Zionist entity," he added. "We want to warn the barbaric [Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz that our men can hit targets in Ashkelon. But we have no plans to use these missiles unless Israel attacks the Gaza Strip or assassinates senior Palestinian commanders." The 122-mm. caliber Grad missile, officially known as BM-21, was first used by the Soviet Red Army in 1963. The first missiles were fired from trucks fitted with launchers capable of firing 40 rockets within six seconds. The Popular Resistance Committees also claimed on Monday that its members managed to develop a homemade rocket with a range of 15 km. Muhammad Abdel al-Al, a spokesman for the group who is better known by his nickname Abu Abeer, said the group's armed wing, Salah al-Din Brigades, developed the rockets that were fired into Israel during the past few months with an accuracy rate of about 80 percent. He claimed that his group had maps of army bases and towns and cities near the Gaza Strip. The claims of improved rocket technology came as Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets at southern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported. One rocket landed near a kindergarten in a kibbutz near Gaza during a Hanukka party that was attended by 50 children. A second Kassam was fired at Sderot and landed in an open field. The landing spot of the third was still undetected, although the Red Dawn warning system in Sderot identified a firing towards Ashkelon. In a separate development, armed guards at a Gaza Strip greenhouse in the former Gush Katif settlement bloc opened fire at a group of Palestinian laborers who approached the structure on Monday, wounding four people, hospital officials said. The laborers approached the greenhouse on Sunday night after hearing that the business's owner planned to fire workers. The incident took place on the lands of the former settlement of Nezer Hazani