Israeli intel: Palestinian cells directed to stock up on rockets

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TEL AVIV — Israel’s military has been bracing for Palestinian
missile and rocket strikes from the West Bank.

Military sources said the Home Front Command has assessed that Hamas and
other Palestinian insurgency movements were building missile and rocket
arsenals in the West Bank.
The sources said the military command, responsible for responding to attacks on Israeli communities, determined that Hamas and Fatah operatives were being directed by the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip
as well as the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah in Lebanon.

“We know that Hamas-Gaza is now directing cells to build short-range
missiles and rockets, using the same methods as a decade ago,” a source

The sources said the Israel Army and Israel Security Agency have found
several rocket production facilities in the West Bank and assessed that
others were secretly operating. They did not rule out that elements within
the Palestinian Authority were helping the effort as part of another revolt
against Israel.

[Res.] Col. Atai Shelach said Hamas was likely to use missile and rocket
attacks rather than suicide bombings in West Bank operations on Israeli
civilian and military targets. Shelach said Israel’s security wall around
the West Bank made suicide bombings unfeasible.

“The most significant aspect, which we have not yet experienced out of
the West Bank, will involve the capability to launch steep-trajectory
munitions at Israeli towns in the Judea and Samaria sector as well as at
Israeli cities in the inner plain, coastal plain and northern Samaria,”
Shelach said.

In an analysis in the Israel Defense magazine, Shelach said Palestinian
missile strikes from the West Bank were “just a matter of time.” He said
Palestinians were learning missile and rocket production from the Hamas
regime as well as from Palestinian operatives in Lebanon.

“The terrorist organizations on the West Bank have had sufficient time
to prepare and learn from their ‘brethren’ in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon how
to deploy professionally for the launching of steep-trajectory munitions
into Israel,” Shelach said.

The sources said the military’s Central Command as well as ISA were on
alert for Palestinian missile and rocket production. They said Israeli
operations have focused on intelligence as well as raids on suspected Fatah
and Hamas strongholds.

In 2012, then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak raised the prospect
that Palestinians would launch missile and rocket strikes from the West
Bank. Barak called for additional funding from the United States for dozens
of Iron Dome batteries to protect critical facilities, including Ben-Gurion
International Airport, located within five kilometers of the West Bank.

“The distance that the Palestinians must cover in attacks on major
Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, is much shorter than from the Gaza
Strip,” the source said. “This tells us that Hamas will be investing a lot
to develop a missile and rocket capability in the West Bank.”

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