Report: Gaza terror groups have some 10,000 rockets stockpiled
Wall Street Journal says most projectiles in Hamas, Islamic Jihad arsenals are short or medium range, made using 'crude materials' smuggled in from Sinai; paper claims blockades by Jerusalem, Cairo have put militant groups under great financial strain
In last month's deadly flare-up, Palestinian militants fired more than 700 rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians, the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 50-day war in 2014, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
The rockets stockpile - believed to be around 10,000 - was replenished through a combination of smuggling supplies into the Strip and local production by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to the report, which added that the firepower is meant to help pressure Israel to lift the siege on Gaza.
"Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to cause misery and suffering to the Palestinians in Gaza," wrote U.S. Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday in response to Hamas' claims that "the region…will not enjoy calm as long as the enemy (Israel) is on Palestinian land and Gaza is besieged.”
Continued terror threats from Hamas, which claims: “The region…will not enjoy calm as long as the enemy [Israel] is on Palestinian land and Gaza is besieged.” Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to bring misery & suffering to Palestinians in Gaza https://t.co/Q4sZS8atgj— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) June 4, 2019
"Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have the capability to launch a thousand rockets a day for a whole month," Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala said at late last week in an interview to Hezbollah's Al-Manar network.
He claimed that forces in Gaza were improving their capabilities every day, revealing that they had rockets with half a ton of warheads.
"In the last round of conflict, Palestinian factions limited themselves to medium-range fire," he said of the 700 rockets launched at Israel in two days.
"In the next confrontation with Israel, rockets will be fired not only at Tel Aviv, but at all Israeli cities, whatever the consequences," Nahala said.
According to the paper, the majority of the Gaza rockets are thought to have a short or medium range, but there are "hundreds" that could hit densely populated areas of Israel further away from the border with the Strip. Furthermore, the article says, the majority of the rockets are made with "crude material" brought into Gaza via tunnels from Sinai.
The report also says that Hamas leaders have confirmed the rocket stockpile, and quotes the Hamas deputy leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, as saying that, “The region…will not enjoy calm as long as the enemy is on Palestinian land and Gaza is besieged.”
The Israeli and Egyptian blockades on Gaza, the destruction of smuggling tunnels from Sinai and sanctions by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority have put Hamas under enormous financial pressure, the report says, adding that the situation is exacerbated by rare internal protests from Gazans themselves.
“They’re trying to survive. That’s why every now and then they see some sort of new provocation against Israel to try to put more pressure on (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and his government to alleviate the closures,” Mkhaimar Abusada, political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told the Journal.