With Longer Reach, Rockets Bolster Hamas Arsenal

(New York Times) Ethan Bronner - In the current round of fighting, Israel is aiming at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its assassinated commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, had armed Hamas with sophisticated Iranian weapons like Fajr-5 rockets with a range of about 45 miles, which are fired from underground launching pads. Hamas had perhaps 100 of them. The rockets are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran to Sudan, trucked through Egypt, and broken down and moved through Sinai tunnels into Gaza, according to senior Israeli security officials. Israeli officials said the movement of the Fajr-5 rockets through Egypt could not go unnoticed there, given their size. Each is 20 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds - the warhead alone weighs 375 pounds - and the trucks carrying them across Egyptian bridges and through roadblocks into Sinai would be hard to miss. The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports, and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said. "[Jabari] sent commanders to Syria and to Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. And then he built up this whole new branch to develop military technology focusing on long-range missiles," said a retired Israeli general. The collapse of Libya last year created other supply options for Hamas as Libyan military storehouses were raided and the weapons were driven across Egypt and into Gaza.

2012-11-19 00:00:00

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