The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was referring to a new artillery rocket from Iran when its Al-Qods wing claimed to have wrecked the Ashkelon house on Tuesday, Nov. 13 with a new weapon. Neither the IDF spokesman nor any other Israeli official disclosed that at least one of the 470 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in 48 hours had been supplied by Tehran to its Palestinian proxy with instructions to start using it. Jihad did not name the weapon except to say it had medium range.
However, DEBKAfile sources can identify it as a Falaq-2 with a range of 11km and 333mm caliber, manufactured at the Shahid Bagheri Industries complex which is part of Iran’s aerospace industries. It is designed to destroy defense systems, such as artillery emplacements, Iron Dome batteries, armored force concentrations – whether over ground or in trenches, as well as combat engineering equipment and command centers. The Iranian rocket showed its destructive capabilities in Ashkelon, killing a Palestinian worker and injuring two women. On Thursday, Gen. Mohammed Baqeri, Iran’s chief of staff, gleefully praised “the [Palestinian] victory in the Gaza Strip as turning a new leaf for the resistance. Victories will continue until the Zionist entity is no more,” he crowed.
One of Falaq-2’s advantages is its mobility. It is not launched from stationary batteries, but from any combat 4×4 vehicle or jeep, each of which carries two rockets. The team activates stabilizers on either side of the vehicle before firing. Jihad secretly received the weapon from its Iranian masters two years ago but was only ordered to use it in the latest Palestinian rocket offensive on Israel, thereby enabling Iran to target its first Israeli civilian population.
The deployment of the Iranian Falaq-2 in the Gaza Strip confronts Israel’s security authorities with some hard questions:
- How was it smuggled into the Palestinian enclave?
- Why didn’t the IDF destroy the Falaq-2 stores in Gaza as soon as they were delivered – or later?
- Why didn’t the IDF warn the people living on the Gaza border that their homes faced this deadly threat?
- Why didn’t the IDF knock out the teams launching it?
- Why does Israel refrain from hitting Iranian targets in the region in retaliation?
- Is this why Avigdor Lieberman after quitting as defense minister, warned local leaders on the Gaza border that within a year the threat from Hamas and Jihad would be equal to that of Hizballah?