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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Extended-range Hamas missiles could reach additional Israeli cities

JERUSALEM — Hamas continues to extend the range of its surface-to-surface missiles, increasing the scale of its threat to Israel.

The Israeli intelligence community reported that the Hamas regime has acquired the capability to fire missiles with a range of 30 kilometers. The assessment warned that Hamas could strike such Israeli cities as Kiryat Gat in the east and the outskirts of Ashdod to the north.

"Hamas has these missiles and the expertise to produce them in Gaza," an official said.

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On July 22, Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin said Hamas has acquired missiles with a range of beyond 25 kilometers. Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the unidentified missiles could strike most communities in southeastern Israel.

"Hamas today has missiles which can reach Kiryat Gat, and maybe even Ashdod," Diskin said.

Hamas was said to have developed a Kassam-class, short-range missile that could fly around 17 kilometers. Officials said Hamas has also acquired 122 mm Katyusha rockets with a range of more than 20 kilometers.

In his briefing, Diskin said Hamas was using the current ceasefire to rearm and enhance its military capability. He said weapons smuggling from neighboring Egypt has increased over the last six weeks, and Hamas has planted mines near the border of the Gaza Strip with Israel.

"The truce is enabling Hamas to get stronger," Diskin said. "They have not abandoned their long-term plans."

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