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Grad rocket Photo: Amir Cohen
Grad rocket Photo: Amir Cohen
 
 

 

Where are the rockets?

Blow suffered by Hamas in aerial assault disrupted its firing capabilities

Alex Fishman
Published: 12.29.08, 11:08 / Israel Opinion

Only now, when the names of some of the hundreds of people killed and wounded in Gaza are being ascertained, we can start to understand the extent of the blow suffered by Hamas’ operational arm.

 

Indeed, we are not talking about the top commanders or leadership – they were not hurt – yet mid-level commanders were killed. The Air Force experts who analyze the intelligence information pouring in from the bombing sites can now provide a partial explanation for the question that preoccupies everyone: Why doesn’t Hamas fire the thousands of rockets still in its warehouses?

 

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Among other reasons, because centers of knowledge were destroyed; engineers, Qassam unit commanders, and those tasked with producing rockets were killed or wounded. The IDF struck buildings that stored Hamas arms in their basements. The ammunition exploded, the walls collapsed, and now it’s difficult to go into those sites and take out the Qassams that were not damaged. Moreover, most of the permanent launch sites that were prepared in advance were destroyed.

 

In addition, the first day’s blow destabilized Hamas command structure. Junior commanders were killed, the communication systems collapsed, and command and control systems broke down. Commanders have no way of getting in touch with their units. The IDF targeted the antennas of the cellular phone system and the al-Quds television station. Confusion reigns supreme.

 

Hamas’ secret weapon

And where did Hamas’ soldiers disappear? As long as the IDF does not invade the Strip, they in fact have no practical purpose. Some of them lost touch with their commanders. Others took off their uniforms and assimilated into the civilian population. Others are hiding in mosques.

 

Hamas’ military wing was not destroyed, it was simply destabilized for the first 48 hours of the operation, at least. This shock was manifested through the relatively low rate of rocket fire in the first two days.

 

However, this is the glass half full. This achievement did not surprise the top IDF brass. An almost identical scenario appears in the war games undertaken by the army ahead of the operation. Then there is the empty half. In the war game scenarios, Hamas recovers from the blow. For the time being, it takes the group a little more time than what we expected, apparently because the aerial assault was more successful than planned. Yet if the pressure will be off, even a little, Hamas will recover. Commanders will arrive at their units, pick up the rockets, gather troops, and execute the plans they practiced in the past.

 

On Sunday, Hamas pulled out its “secret weapon” – the long-range rockets, which indeed did not cause any damage but reflected Hamas’ distress. They are firing at any price, just to show that they are still alive and kicking.

 

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