Weapons: August 8, 2004

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The Palestinian terrorists, fighting to destroy Israel, have developed a home made rocket, the Kassam, that could, eventually, become a real threat to towns in southern Israel. Using components smuggled into Gaza from Egypt, the Kassam first appeared in 2002, and since then, nearly 400 have been fired. Based on technical assistance received from the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah, and what Palestinian technicians and engineers learned from books and the Internet, a workable design was developed. There have been roughly three versions of the Kassam developed so far. The term roughly applies because there is no strict specification for the rockets, only a rough design guideline. The Kassam I is 31 inches long, 2.4 inches in diameter, weighs 12 pounds, has about a pound of explosives in the warhead and has a range of about three kilometers. Kassam II is 71 inches long, six inches in diameter, weighs 70 pounds, has about 11-15 pounds of explosives in the warhead and has a range of about eight kilometers. Kassam III is over 80 inches long, 6.7 inches in diameter, weighs about 200 pounds, has 22-44 pounds of explosives in the warhead and has a range of about ten kilometers. Israel fears that the Palestinians will continue to make larger rockets, with longer ranges, and thus threaten more urban areas in southern Israel. The Kassam is unguided, except by some fins and the crude design of the rocket motor. The rockets are made from whatever is available, so some of the rocket motors are very crude mixtures of chemicals that will burn slow enough to propel, rather than explode. Some of the Kassams have exploded instead of flying off in the general direction of the target area. 

About a hundred of the Kassams, mostly model Is, have been fired at Israeli targets inside Gaza (Israeli settlements or military bases). Another 175 have gone out into Israeli settlements in the western Negev desert. At least 75 have been aimed at the closest Israeli town, Sderot (about a kilometer north of Gaza). Four people have been killed by these rockets, all in Sderot. Over the last two years, the quality, size and quantity of the rockets have increased, despite energetic Israeli efforts to stop production and use of the weapon. Kassams are made in factories or improvised workshops in Gaza. The Israelis fear that the rockets will eventually show up in the West Bank, where there are far more Israeli civilians to fire at. 

 


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