The website of Hamas'
military wing on Wednesday published an interview with an operative who was released from an Israeli prison in April and returned to Gaza.
Ahmed Akram Salmi exposed what he described as efforts to manufacture Qassam
rockets in the West Bank at the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada.
Salmi said that he introduced methods of manufacturing Qassam rockets after studying the matter in Gaza. Upon his arrival in the West Bank, Salmi joined one of Hamas' military wing cells led by senior operative Mohammed Arman. Involved in various terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, Arman was sentenced to 36 life sentences.
According to Salmi, Arman and the other cell members personally oversaw the manufacturing of rockets near Ramallah. He said they bought a space where they produced rockets and explosives, as well as a car which was meant to transport the explosives into Israel.
Qassam that hit south Israel (Photo: Zeev Trachtman)
"The most obvious rocket targets were the Knesset building, the Ben Gurion Airport and other cities, the most prominent of which was Tel Aviv," he said.
According to Salmi, the cell manufactured close to 20 "Qassam 1" type rockets ready to be fired. He explained that the main obstacle for the production of a larger amount of rockets was operation Defensive Shield which had been launched in 2002.
The cell then decided to prioritize the production of explosives over rockets. Salmi said that a mass fire that erupted in the factory after pipes accidentally detonated the explosives had ended the rocket production.
The "Qassam 1" rocket has a range of up to five kilometers. In the past, Palestinian terror cells claimed they launched Qassams from the West Bank, but this has never been confirmed by officials.