GAZA CITY ø Hamas said it has been developing a long-range
Hamas sources said the Islamic insurgency group has been working on a
so-called Kassam-4 missile. The missile was meant to have a range of 17
kilometers and capable of striking the Israeli city of Ashkelon from the
northern Gaza Strip.
In 2003, Kassam missiles fired from the edge of the Gaza Strip landed in
the industrial zone in southern Ashkelon. Those missiles were said to have
traveled around 10 kilometers.
Hamas, believed to have up to 200 Kassams in the Gaza Strip, has claimed
a capability of developing missiles to a range of 17-20 kilometers. The
group has threatened to begin targeting Ashkelon.
On Monday, Hamas gunners launched at least two Kassam missiles toward
the Israeli city of Sderot. During the previous day, Hamas fired two Kassam
into Israel's western Negev. There were no serious injuries reported in
either strike. Over the last six days, Hamas has fired 13 Kassam missiles
For the last six days, Israel's military has conducted a Kassam
search-and-destroy operation in the Gaza Strip in which more than 75
Palestinians were killed. The casualties included members of seven Kassam
crews. On Monday, seven Palestinians were reported killed in fighting in the
northern Gaza Strip.
Israeli military sources said Hamas has been developing Kassam missiles
in lathes installed throughout the Gaza Strip. They said Hamas has developed
these new missiles with expertise relayed by Hizbullah.
"In the past several years, during the most present conflict, the
Palestinians have enhanced their abilities to launch their rockets, which
can now reach a range of 10 kilometers, as compared to the
three-kilometer-range previously attained," an Israeli military statement
said. "Hamas is now trying to develop the Kassam-4 rocket, which will have a
far greater range than what exists today."
The military statement described the Kassam as a large iron cylinder
body tipped with a small warhead. The missile contains an ejecting nozzle
and four small stabilizing wings. The middle part of the rocket comprises
the engine, while the front part is the warhead attached to a detonating
fuse that contains standard or improvised explosives.
The Kassam-1 has a weight of 5.5 kilograms with a warhead of 0.5
kilograms and a maximim range of three kilometers, the statement said. The
Kassam-2, twice as wide and six times heavier, has a range of eight
kilometers and a warhead of between five and seven kilograms. The Kassam-3
has a range of 10 kilometers with up to 20 kilograms of explosives. Its
diameter is 170 millimeters.
Israeli officials said they don't have the technology to defend against
Kassam missiles. They said the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser project
undertaken with the U.S. Army has been hampered by technical obstacles and
did not envision an operational system before the end of the decade.
Palestinian sources said Hamas and other insurgency groups have tried to
defeat Israeli reconnaissance systems during the military operation in the
Gaza Strip. The sources told the London-based Al Hayat daily on Monday that
the insurgents were creating smoke screens and other means to conceal their
activities from Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles.