Senior defense sources asserted in the past two days that the launching of long-range rockets at the outskirts of Haifa should not have been a surprise to Israeli intelligence. These were M-302s - 302-mm rockets manufactured in Syria. Hamas changed the name of this heavy rocket, which it used for the first time in the current round of fighting, to the R-160. The letter "R" stands for the name of senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip in 2004, and the number "160" stands for the rocket's maximum range. The defense establishment says that although Hamas launched a rocket of this type at such a long range for the first time only two days ago, it could have been assumed that it was already in the organization's possession, because rockets of this type were seized in March on the deck of the Klos C weapons ship. This ship, with many weapons on board earmarked for Hamas, was captured by Israeli commandos in the Red Sea.
The weapon can carry a warhead of up to 150 kg. According to missile expert Uzi Rabin, former head of the Homa program in the Ministry of Defense, the weight of the warhead is likely to be lowered in order to increase the missile's range. In an attempt to make it more difficult to track the rockets before they are launched against Israel, Hamas launches them from pre-prepared launching pits, which are opened only when the order is given. Before Operation Protective Edge began, the air force directed most of its attacks in the Gaza Strip against pits the locations of which it already knew. Many launching pits have also been attacked in the course of the operation. An Israeli defense source said today that Hamas would attempt another missile attack against Haifa in the coming days. The source added that it could not be ruled out that these launches would be successful, with Hamas thereby proving its ability to hit Haifa Bay. If the M-302 is an unsurprising, albeit new, player for many, the M-75 is nothing to get excited about: most of the rockets launched at Tel Aviv and the Dan Region, Jerusalem, and communities located over 40 km from the Gaza Strip are rockets of this type. Hamas produces this rocket on regular production lines in Gaza, based on detailed plans and with the help of specialists. According to experts, Hamas has accumulated a great deal of know-how in producing such rockets, enabling it to provide its rocket system with standard and relatively high-quality rockets.
An expert said today that this rocket was capable of carrying a 60-90 kg warhead. The damage caused to a residential building in Rishon Lezion during Operation Pillar of Defense was attributed to a rocket of this type. The defense establishment believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have several hundred rockets of this type or similar to them threatening Israeli targets at ranges of 70-80 km from Gaza.
In the case of the long-range 302-mm rockets, the number possessed by Hamas is estimated at a few dozen. In the case of Grad rockets, Hamas's bread and butter, which threaten Israeli targets up to 40 km from Gaza (most of Israel's southern cities fall within this range), Hamas has thousands of them. These are standard rockets, which were called Katyushas when Israel was fighting on its northern border. Next down from these rockets are two types of Kassam rockets: improvised locally produced rockets and mortar shells, which the terrorist fire mostly at communities close to the fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome is incapable of intercepting mortar shells, and their short flying time makes it difficult to provide adequate warning to residents of these areas. In the event of mortar shelling in this region, people have only seconds to take cover.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 10, 2014
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