Hamas Is Producing a New Generation of Palestinian Extra-Power, Extra-Range Missiles in Gaza and West Bank

In the last few weeks, the Palestinian Islamist Hamas has succeeded in tricking Israeli military intelligence into believing that the IDF forays behind the lines in Gaza had slowed down their Qassam missile offensive against Israeli towns and villages.
It was a ruse. debkafile‘s military sources disclose that stocks of the primitive Qassam missiles are low because Hamas has stopped making them and is now fully engaged in setting up the production of a new generation of missiles upgraded to a range of up to 25 km, armed with 3-kilo warheads – one-and a half times the range of the types in current use and more than double their explosive power – and greater accuracy.
Production lines are also going up in several towns on the West Bank, the territory governed by Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. According to our intelligence sources, the Hamas target is to turn out enough new missiles in 4 to 6 weeks – preferably in time for the US-promoted Middle East conference in Annapolis at the end of November. The shelf-life of these missiles is no more than 6 weeks.
The new missiles bring half a million Israelis within range of Hamas fire – a quarter of a million in the south and a similar number in Israel’s heartland north and south of Greater Tel Aviv. In the South, the new missiles can reach Kiryat Gat and the southern outskirts of the big port-town of Ashdod.
debkafile‘s sources emphasize that the Palestinian Authority’s security services are not lifting a finger against the new missile industry mushrooming on the West Bank. In fact, members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Abbas’ Fatah, are shielding it.
Furthermore, the Israeli military is also standing aside, for two reasons:
1. Israeli military intelligence has not had time to collect the specific addresses of the new missile production sites.
2. Even if all the intelligence were to hand, the Olmert government would not authorize military action to destroy the foundries and workshops – certainly not before Annapolis – because, from the little that has been discovered, they are known to be embedded in the most densely populated areas of Palestinian cities. There is no way to destroy them by air or from the ground without inflicting heavy civilian casualties.
debkafile‘s military sources add:
Up until the last week in October, Israeli military spokesmen explained that Hamas had tapered off its Qassam attacks and switched to mortar fire in response to the heavy punishment the missile sites and teams were taking from the IDF’s regular behind-the-lines raids in Gaza and its air strikes. It was presumed that Hamas had decided that Israeli forces would find it harder to locate and strike the mortar cells than the more vulnerable missile crews.
However, our sources reveal that this theory does not hold water. Some time ago, the air force command notified the general staff that air strikes against Qassam crews were hardly worth the candle since they hit no more than 3 percent of their targets.
What this amounts to, say debkafile‘s military experts, is that 16 months after the Lebanon War, the Israeli military has still not cracked the problem of short-range missile and rocket attacks from across Israel’s borders.
Aware of this, Hamas is investing all its efforts in upgrading the range, destructive power and accuracy of their new missiles. The Qassam crews have been taken off daily barrage duty against Sderot and other Israeli towns and villages and put into training for the new hardware.
In recent weeks, scores of Hamas operatives have returned to Gaza from special courses in missile production in Iran and Syria, under Syrian and Iranian Revolutionary Guards instructors. The returnees’ brought with them lathe components and metals for upgrading their machinery and product.
Officers serving in the IDF’s southern command are deeply pessimistic about the military’s ability to deal with the new missile threat at this late date. They also report that Hamas is managing to smuggle from Gaza to the West Bank missile production engineers and machine parts.
The Palestinian Islamists are taking advantage of the restraints imposed on Israeli army and Shin Bet on the West Bank too. For the time being, they are confined solely to counter-terror preventive operations. Israeli and Palestinian forces are leaving Hamas’s production and missile teams alone.
This week, word went round the Palestinian towns and villages on the West Bank that applicants for employment in the new Qassam missile industry would be made welcome.

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