Hamas is developing a new, electronically guided missile that will place most major Israeli population centers within firing range, Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' so-called military wing, told WorldNetDaily.
Abdullah is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. He said his group would not immediately carry out rocket attacks but that Hamas is acquiring new weapons and is preparing for the possibility of resuming anti-Israel operations should a truce the group claims to abide by falls apart. Abdullah hinted at possible Iranian assistance to Hamas' missile program.
"In the last months we accelerated the improvement operations of our missile production," Abdullah said. "Thanks to Allah we have already improved missiles and in the future we will have the fourth model of our Qassam missiles, which will be electronically guided missiles and very accurate. Our Mujahadeen fighters are receiving a high level of training on how to use the new Qassams and how to maximize their accuracy. With the help of Allah we will succeed."
Abdullah claimed the new missiles will be able to reach "every target in 1948 occupied Palestine (Israel) and that from Gaza we will be able to hit the center of Israel even if the transfer of these missiles to the West Bank (which runs alongside major Israeli cities) is for some reason interrupted."
Palestinian groups have until now generally fired three versions of Qassams, improvised steel rockets filled with explosives and fuel. They can travel between one and five miles. Qassam-3's travel the farthest and are the largest, at about four feet in length.
The rockets lack a guidance system and are launched from Gaza towns by terrorists who reportedly use the rocket's trajectory and known travel distance to aim at Jewish neighborhoods near the Gaza border. About 20 percent of Qassams do not explode upon impact.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip nine months ago, more than 300 rockets, mostly Qassams, have been fired at adjacent Jewish neighborhoods. More than 10 rockets were fired last week alone.
The Israeli army largely has attempted to halt Qassam rocket fire mostly utilizing artillery units and aerial strikes against suspected launching sites, but the operations have failed to stem the flow of Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel earlier this week carried out a raid deep inside Gaza, reportedly the first of its kind since withdrawing from the territory last August.
On Wednesday, Islamic Jihad launched a volley of rockets at Sderot, an Israeli Negev desert community about five miles from Gaza. One of the rockets hit
a few hundred feet from Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz's Sderot house. An Islamic Jihad spokesman said the rockets fired yesterday were new longer-range missiles recently manufactured based on the Russian-made Katyusha, with a maximum range of 12 miles.
'World shall see our new military capabilities'
Israel has noted regular improvements in Qassams, although it has not released information about Palestinian groups developing missiles with guidance systems.
A senior Palestinian intelligence officer told WND there is evidence groups in Gaza are developing guided missiles.
Israeli defense officials, though, have warned some advanced rockets, including antiaircraft missiles, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials also say Iran has been improving rocket capabilities of anti-Israel groups, including the Lebanese-based Hizbullah, which reportedly recently acquired new rockets from Tehran that can travel about 125 miles, placing most major Israeli population centers within rocket-firing range of the group's outposts along Israel's northern border.
Asked whether Hamas received any Iranian assistance in developing his organization's missile arsenal, Abdullah replied: "Hamas as an Islamic movement and Muslims have the right to receive help from any Muslim power all over the world. This is part of Islamic tradition and the Quran. Hamas has excellent relations with Hizbullah and Iran, but we are not in the business of telling reporters whether Hamas has received military help from Iran or from Hizbullah."
Abdullah continued: "The most racist regime that existed in modern history, the South African apartheid regime, had excellent relations with the Israelis and nobody condemned Israel because of this collaboration. It shows how the world is hypocritical by trying to criticize us for any help from Iran."
Abdullah claimed Israel has been deliberately minimizing his group's rocket capabilities and stated Hamas eventually would break the cease-fire to which it agreed last February.
"It is normal that the Israelis will underestimate the capabilities of Palestinian resistance such as not admitting we are working on these new missiles," he said. "The people who made the (Gaza) withdrawal don't want to talk now about the so-called risks.
"In the last fifteen months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the ceasefire, the world shall see our new military capabilities."
Reprinted with permission from WorldNetDaily