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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hamas and Iran trying to smuggle rockets to hit Tel Aviv

Hamas had a miserable winter in Gaza this past year and is trying to recoup its wounded pride by smuggling Fajr-5 rockets (pictured), which have enough range to hit Tel Aviv, into Gaza. It's not easy.
Most locally made Hamas rockets (Kassams), are based on the older Russian B-12 rocket. This is a factory made, 107mm, 42 pound, 33 inch long, rocket that is very popular with terrorists. This rocket has a range of about six kilometers and three pounds of explosives in its warhead. Normally fired, from a launcher, in salvoes of dozens at a time, when used individually, it is more accurate the closer it is to the target. This 107mm design has been copied by many nations, and is very popular with guerillas and terrorists because of its small size and portability. Hamas has little need for the B-12, because their locally made Kassam rockets match it in range and lack of accuracy. But some B-12s are smuggled in anyway, usually by non-Hamas terror groups that Hamas shelters in Gaza.

Iran is apparently concentrating on smuggling longer range rockets into Gaza, like their Fajr-5. This 10 meter (31 feet) long, 333mm (13 inches) diameter, .9 ton rocket has a range of 75 kilometers. It could reach Tel Aviv, and most of central Israel. But the Fajr-5 is as big as a telephone poll, and is based on a similar Chinese rocket that Iran bought in the 1990s. Fajr-5s can be moved through the smuggling tunnels to Gaza only if broken down into 8-10 sections, and then reassembled on the other end. Getting the pieces into Egypt is not easy, and trying to smuggle them in by sea is very risky. But the Fajr-5 carries a 200 pound warhead, with about a hundred pounds of explosives. Makes a big bang, and is only effective if aimed at a large urban area. That means that the most likely victims will be civilians. Iran is betting that Israel will not retaliate when Israeli forensics experts examine the pieces of the missile after landing in an Israeli city, and identifying it as of Iranian manufacture. Israel did not strike back at Iran when smaller Fajr rockets were fired at Israeli cities in 2006, by Hezbollah in Lebanon. But Israel would certainly go into Gaza if a Fajr ever landed in Tel Aviv.

Iran feels humiliated now, by the country it says, loudly and frequently, should be destroyed. So there apparently is an effort to get Fajr-5s, or similar large rockets, into Gaza. But getting Hamas to fire them is another matter. Hamas is under a lot of pressure from European and Arab supporters, to give up its genocidal plans for Israel and to concentrate on improving the lives of Gazans (many of whom blame Hamas for the war earlier this year). Even Hamas hardliners have to confront the fact that they put in a pitiful performance against Israeli troops back then. Firing a few Fajr-5s into Israel, and then getting blasted by a thousand Israeli smart bombs, missiles and artillery shells, gives one pause. But Iran is supplying Hamas with much of the cash that keeps the organization alive. So Hamas is trying to replace the 2,000 rockets it lost in that war (including 1,400 destroyed by Israeli bombs, shells and troops), will continuing to upgrade the skills of Hamas fighters. Iran is also smuggling in anti-aircraft missiles (like the SA-7/18 types), to be used against the Israeli helicopters that are frequently seen over Gaza. These are easier to get through the tunnels, but the Israelis have equipped their helicopters and low flying fighters with countermeasures to SA-7 type missiles. So the main Iranian goal remains getting rockets that will hit Tel Aviv and other large Israeli urban areas and military facilities.
But given the Goldstone Report, can we be sure that Israel really would enter Gaza even if Tel Aviv were hit? My sense is that it would take more than a hit on Tel Aviv at this point: It would take a mass casualty event (God forbid) so that the next time we don't hear stories that say "1400 'Palestinians' and 13 Israelis were killed in the war." If we hear that last headline again, you know that we will be facing complaints about being 'disproportionate' and that the government will find an excuse not to go into Gaza and defend its population. The next time we go into Gaza (and I actually believe there will be a next time), it's all-out war or not at all. So it will take a much 'greater provocation' than 'crude' rockets that kill a few Jews and terrorize thousands over the course of eight years.

What would it take for the IDF to go back into Gaza in the post-Goldstone era? My guess is that it would take something like this simulated attack on Tel Aviv's Azrieli Center, which I showed in a post in January.

Let's go to the videotape.

It will take a mass casualty event (God forbid) for Israel to go into Gaza again in the post-Goldstone era. But when that mass casualty event happens (which I believe it will), the response will be all-out war.

What could go wrong?


At 4:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Iran wants to arm Hamas to pursue its war against Israel and also to warn Israel off an attack upon its nuclear installations.

What could go wrong indeed

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The next time in Gaza, everything has to be flattened.

No dropped warning leaflets either.

At 5:47 PM, Blogger MUSHI said...

some time ago, it was: "you kill one of us, we kill 100 of you".
now it is: you kill one of us, if you don't stop i'll attack you".

we must return to the old action strategies. we must crush them.
but crush them for real.

the world is going to blame us anyway.


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