Rocket fire from Gaza Strip declines dramatically

Rocket fire from Gaza Strip  credit: Reuters/Majdi Fathi
Rocket fire from Gaza Strip credit: Reuters/Majdi Fathi

Hamas is no longer just managing its stocks, but is experiencing difficulty in carrying out launches.

A salvo of rockets was fired at the Tel Aviv area this afternoon, but, despite the alarm and the danger, looking more broadly at the rate of rocket fire, a significant decline is evident.

In the first week of the war, after October 7, between 100 and 300 air-raid warnings were sounded in Israel each day, the peak coming on October 9, with 372 warnings.

Following that, there were only a few dozen sirens daily, until they stopped entirely during the ceasefire from November 24 to November 30. In the first few days after the ceasefire ended, it looked as though we had returned to the situation at the start of the war, with 214 rockets on the first day and 177 on the second. But the numbers soon declined. On December 18 there were just nine sirens in the whole of Israel. On December 20, there were ten.

The decline also applies to the Gaza Strip border area. In the past week, there has not been a single day with more than seven warnings in that area, which represents a drastic fall in comparison with the beginning of the war.

In Gush Dan (Greater Tel Aviv), salvoes are becoming less and less frequent. At the beginning of the war, they were heard several times a day. In the days before the ceasefire, they came about once every two days, but between December 12 and December 18, almost a whole week, there was not a single air raid warning in the Gush Dan area as defined by the IDF Home Front Command.

Hilla Haddad Chmelnik, a space and aeronautics engineer who took part in the development of the Iron Dome rocket defense system, explains that Hamas has great difficulty in using its rocket capability.

In an interview a month ago, she said, "Like Israel, Hamas is managing its fire. Even now, the rate of fire is declining, because they realize that we’re in a more significant event than previous rounds of fighting." Now, however, she says that it is no longer a matter of fire management and husbanding munitions for later, but actual inability to maintain a high rate of fire.

"It’s now no longer just fire management; Hamas has real difficulty in execution. The IDF ground forces’ grip on most of the area of the Gaza Strip severely limits Hamas’s rocket firing ability. Even in areas that the IDF doesn’t hold, there’s a civilian population everywhere, nearly two million people, which makes it difficult to carry out launches. On the geographical level too, Hamas’s force is concentrated in the south, from which mortar fire doesn’t reach anywhere. And to launch a large rocket that will reach Tel Aviv requires trucks and cranes, and it’s hard to organize that. The tunnel entrances, even if they haven’t been destroyed, are harder to reach to set the timers for launch."

Moreover, the difficulty is not just in the physical ability to carry out launches, but also in management. "There’s also the question of command and control, which the IDF has hit hard. In the end, launching a large rocket is an operation. As we can see, Hamas’s operational capabilities haven’t been eradicated, but they have certainly shrunk," Haddad Chmelnik says.

Unable to rearm

Talya Lankri, former deputy head of the National Security Council, agrees that Hamas is starting to reach the limit of its capabilities. "The IDF is inside the Gaza Strip, and there are significant achievements, including against Hamas’s ability to fire rockets, because the IDF has destroyed positions and conquered territory," she says. "People asked, ‘Why did we need the ground operation?’, and now we see the result. The Air Force and bombing from above aren’t enough. It’s necessary to reach the places they’re launching from, whether it’s launch pits or from inside houses. As soon as you’re physically there, it’s possible to destroy a lot of the materiel and munitions. Moreover, the Hamas leadership isn’t managing to exercise command and to say how and when to fire."

Another reason for the decline in rocket fire is that Hamas’s stock of rockets is dwindling. "Hamas has fired quite a lot, and they don’t have the ability to replenish stocks and acquire new munitions. Unlike us, they have nowhere to get them from. I don’t rule out them firing right up to the last day, but not salvoes even such as were are seeing at present. In any event, at the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 there was a permanent ceasefire and they were able to fire last. It’s not certain that in this case the decision will be the same."

On the northern front, it should be mentioned, the situation is different. Warnings of rockets and missiles fired by Hezbollah continue at a more or less regular rate, at between five and eight per day, without cease. While Hamas is becoming steadily weaker, Hezbollah still carries a substantial rocket threat to the Israeli home front.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on December 21, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Rocket fire from Gaza Strip  credit: Reuters/Majdi Fathi
Rocket fire from Gaza Strip credit: Reuters/Majdi Fathi
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