Even though Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense intercepts many rockets, there are still frequent strikes in Israeli cities. In 2021, Israeli intelligence estimated that the various Islamist militant groups in Gaza, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ), had around 30,000 rockets at their disposal – with ranges between 10 and 250 kilometers.
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There is no official arms industry in the Gaza Strip. But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) assumes that most missiles are now manufactured in local workshops and only a few are smuggled into the isolated coastal strip from Syria and Iran.
Kassam rockets, home-made
According to the IISS, there is currently no evidence of the use of guided surface-to-surface missiles, but military experts do not rule out the possibility that they could be in the Islamists’ arsenal. According to information in the IISS yearbook “Military Balance 2023”, Hamas most recently had self-made Kassam rockets of various calibers and with a shorter range. IISS military expert Fabian Hinz told Swiss television in mid-October that a Hamas rocket costs between $1,000 and $5,000 – so it is cheaper than, for example, Israel’s interceptor rockets.
In addition, Hamas can reach larger Israeli towns near Gaza with Iranian “Fajr-3” rockets with an estimated range of up to 45 kilometers. The Fadshr-5 type, which can hit targets up to 75 kilometers away, puts the greater Tel Aviv and Jerusalem area within reach.
Long-range ballistic missile
According to the IISS, there are also Hamas ballistic missiles called “Ajash-250”. In mid-October, one of these was intercepted by the Israeli defense system. According to media reports, warning sirens wailed east of the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, more than 160 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip. Ballistic missiles are generally surface-to-surface missiles that are propelled at the beginning of the flight phase and then fall to the earth in free flight. The trajectory is similar to that of a thrown stone.
According to IISS information, Hamas also has “9K11 Maljutka” (Russia) and “Dehlavieh” (Iran) anti-tank missiles. According to this, Hamas and PIJ also rely on unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as drones. On the one hand, direct, satellite-controlled attacks were carried out using kamikaze drones, and on the other hand, quadrocopters have already dropped ammunition.
The PIJ terrorists used “Badr-3” rockets during the conflict with Israel in 2021. The southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Netivot were hit.
Hezbollah’s massive arsenal
Hezbollah is considered far more dangerous to Israel than Hamas. Experts believe that the Shiite militia, which has been massively upgraded by Iran, has more than 100,000 rockets, bombs and other missiles, some say 200,000. Hezbollah is the most heavily armed non-state actor in the world, according to the US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). According to her, the arsenal consists mainly of small, portable and unguided surface-to-surface artillery rockets.
The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) lists: Hezbollah has around 40,000 rockets with a short range of up to 20 kilometers. There are 80,000 short-range, medium-range missiles (up to 100 kilometers) such as “Fadshr-3”, “Fadshr-5” and others. There are said to be around 30,000 rockets, including those of the “Fatah-110” type with a range of up to 300 kilometers. Some experts believe Hezbollah may even have Scud missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers.
Around 2000 drones
The militia also carries military equipment to attack tanks and ships. Anti-aircraft missiles are also in the arsenal. The Israeli Alma Research and Education Center estimated in 2022 that around 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles are available – including Iranian drones “Shahed” and “Samad”.
Reports about the Islamist groups’ arsenals sometimes mention long-range missiles. But these weapons, also known as intercontinental ballistic missiles with a built-in guidance system, whose range exceeds 5,500 kilometers, are not in the possession of Hamas or Hezbollah – nor are medium-range missiles with a range between at least 800 and 5,500 kilometers.
Even if “long-distance missiles” are sometimes mentioned in the cases of Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah, this usually refers to short-range missiles with a longer range.
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