In memoriam: Fatah introduces new rocket, the 'Yasser-1'

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

GAZA CITY The ruling Fatah movement has deployed a new rocket named after its late leader Yasser Arafat.

Palestinian sources said Fatah's military wing has named the rocket "Yasser-1." The sources said the rocket was an advanced model of the Al Aqsa-2 and has a range of 15 kilometers.

Abu Mohammed, an operative of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade told the Israeli daily Maariv that the Yasser-1 was developed by his group's engineering unit, Middle East Newsline reported. He said the new rocket was an enhancement of Al Aqsa and could strike Israeli communities near the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Fatah has produced dozens of Yasser-1 rockets, Abu Mohammed said. He did not provide additional details of the weapon.

"Under certain conditions we would launch our rockets into Israel to deter the Israeli military from carrying out large-scale operations in the Gaza Strip," Abu Mohammed said.

Palestinian sources said Fatah has sought to acquire or develop rockets that could exceed Hamas's Kassam-3 short-range missile. They said Fatah has been discussing procurement with the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

So far, Fatah has not deployed any rockets that approach the range of the Kassam-3, which can reach a distance of between 12 and 14 kilometers.

Most Fatah shelling attacks have comprised of 60 mm and 81 mm mortars. Al Aqsa said it was developing another model of the Yasser-1 with a range of 18 kilometers. This would enable rocket attacks on the Israeli port of Ashkelon from much of the northern Gaza Strip.

The sources said Al Aqsa has been negotiating with the Palestinian Authority in what could result in a ceasefire with Israel. They said Al Aqsa has linked any ceasefire to a guarantee that Israel would halt its pursuit of Fatah insurgents wanted by the military.

On Tuesday, Al Aqsa commander Zakaria Zubeidi, regarded as the most wanted insurgent by Israel, said any ceasefire would depend on Israeli agreement to allow the Palestinians and their descendants to return to their homes in what is now the Jewish state. Zbeidi said Israel must also release all Palestinian prisoners.

Zbeidi said PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not Fatah's candidate to head the PA. On Sunday, Fatah gunmen fired toward Abbas and former PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan in Gaza City. Two of Abbas's bodyguards were killed and four others were injured.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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