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Hamas fires first Iran-made Fajr-5 rockets toward Tel Aviv

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Israel has determined that Hamas and its allies were
firing long-range rockets into Israel.

Israeli military sources said Hamas and Islamic Jihad have begun
launching the Iranian-origin Fajr-5 rocket toward Tel Aviv. They said
Fajr-5s landed in and around Tel Aviv, deemed Israel’s business capital and
located 65 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

Rockets launched by Palestinians militants toward Israel make their way from the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border. /AP/Ariel Schalit

This marked the first appearance of Fajr-5 in an attack from the Gaza
Strip. The rocket was said to have a range of up to 80 kilometers and a
conventional explosive payload of 90 kilograms.

“What comes next will be greater,” Jihad said in a statement.

“Israel is facing a turbulent night as we prepare for expanding our
operation in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Home Front Minister Avi Dichter said on Nov. 15.

The first Fajr-5 landed in the Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, about 15
kilometers south of Tel Aviv on Nov. 15. Hours later, another rocket landed in Holon, some five kilometers south of Tel Aviv.

By evening, sirens began to blare in Tel Aviv, and minutes later an
explosion rocked the city. There were no reports of injuries.

“Despite the sirens, nothing hit the ground,” Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said. “The direction [of the Fajr-5] was apparently towards the southern part of Gush Dan [Tel Aviv area].”

Witnesses said one Fajr-5 landed in the Mediterranean Sea and another just south of the Tel Aviv boundary. They said the explosions stopped
traffic along the Ayalon Highway, one of the busiest routes in the country,
as motorists left their cars to seek shelter.

Over the last year, Hamas and Jihad were believed to have received more than 100 Fajr-5s, the largest weapons in the missile arsenal in the Gaza Strip. The sources said Hamas and Jihad were trained by Iran to use Fajr-5 to overcome Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Israel Air Force has deployed four Iron Dome batteries and was
awaiting a fifth battery, the latter designed to intercept missiles with a
range of up to 150 kilometers. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Iron
Dome has intercepted 100 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and its militia allies have fired more than 250 missiles and
rockets into Israel during a period of 28 hours. On Nov. 15, three people
were killed when an extended-range BM-21 Grad rocket designed by China
slammed into an apartment building in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat
Malachi. At least 15 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes on the
Gaza Strip.

The Fajr-5 launches came a day after the Israeli military attacked some
20 underground Hamas and Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. The military said
most of the Fajr-5s were destroyed in the air strikes.

“We repeat that there is no hermetic defense,” Israel Air Defense
Command chief Brig. Gen. Shahar Shohat said.

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