In spite of strict observation and tight restrictions, Hamas has grown from strength to strength and produced lethal weapons, especially long-range missiles. These weapons have been procured or produced indigenously; nothing is clear so far.
During this fourth main round of barbarity between Israel and Palestine, terrorist organisation Hamas which rule the Gaza Strip, fired roughly about 4,000 rockets at Israel, some hitting deep inside the Israeli territory with greater precision than ever before. These unusually sophisticated rockets reached in the north as far as the seaside metropolis of Tel Aviv, some rockets were launched with the help of drones, and even an attempt was made to carry out the submarine attack. This display the dramatic firepower received mainly through indigenously made weaponry despite the blockage of the coastal strip by Israeli-Egyptian. However, the technical assistance from some countries, especially Iran, Jordan and Syria, can not be ruled out. “The magnitude of (Hamas) bombing is much bigger, and the precision is much better in this conflict,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City. “It is shocking what they have been able to do under siege.” (The Times of Israel, the English daily dated May 21, 2021)
Journey of Hamas from grenades to rockets.
Hamas came into being in 1987 and has its origins in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which had been active in the Gaza Strip since the 1950s and increased its power through a network of mosques and numerous charitable and social organisations. In the 1980s, the Brotherhood emerged as a decisive political factor, challenging the influence of the Planstine Liberation Organisation(PLO) and in 1987 adopted a more nationalist line under the name of Hamas. During the 1990s and early 2000s, the organisation carry out several suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel.
Since the founding of Hamas in 1987, the group’s mysterious military wing functions in conjunction with an apparent political outfit. It graduated from an insignificant mercenary force into what Israel describes as a Para Military Force. During its early days, Hamas conducted dangerous firings and abductions of many people of Israel. It murdered many Israelis in suicide bombings during the 2nd Palestinian intifada, which flared up in late 2000. As savagery grew, this terrorist organisation begin the production of fundamental technology-driven rockets named ‘Qassam’. Operated primarily by liquefied sugar, these rockets could reach just a few kilometres, gain high trajectory, and inflicted minor damage, every so often landing inside Gaza only.
Israel pulled out from Gaza in 2005; Hamas laid a secret supply line from all-weather friends Iran and Syria as per Israel’s military authority. Longer-ranged rockets, robust explosives, metal, and machinery flowed through Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. It is learnt that the rockets were sent to Sudan, packed in trucks and transported through Egypt’s desert areas, and trafficked through a den of narrow tunnels underneath the Sinai Peninsula.
In 2007, Hamas threw Palestinian Authority out of the Gaza Strip and took over the control of the area through violent ways and means. Then Israel and Egypt imposed their tight blockade. According to the Israeli Defence Forces, the sneak in sustained gained momentum after Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist leader and Hamas ally, was elected president of Egypt in 2012 before being overthrown by the Egyptian army in 2013.
Hamas enjoys wide-ranging material assistance from Iran in its arming efforts. Iran’s resolve to strengthen its influence in the Palestinian arena and among Palestinian terror groups. Iran corroborates its support of the resistance camp by providing high-quality standard weapons. Rockets, ranging from 20 to 40 kilometres, are being smuggled into the Gaza Strip and about a thousand mortar shells, several dozen Anti-Tank items, tons of deadly explosives, and tons of raw materials for explosive production.
Hamas has a vast inventory of shorter-range systems like the Qassam (up to 10km) and the Quds 101 (up to about 16km); reinforced by the Grad system (up to 55km); and the Sejil 55 (up to 55km). Nevertheless, Hamas also operates a variety of longer-range systems like the M-75 (up to 75km); the Fajr (up to 100km); the R-160 (up to 120km); and some M-302s which have a range of up to 200km. So it is clear that Hamas has weapons that can target both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and threaten the whole coastal strip, which contains the highest density of Israel’s population. (BBC, NEWS dated May 12, 2021)
Indigenous production of weaponry.
The bulk of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad arsenals come from a dynamic and relatively sophisticated manufacturing capability inside the Gaza Strip. Israeli and outside experts believe that Iranian know-how and assistance have played a significant role in building up this industry.
When Morsi was deposed, Egypt shut down hundreds of trafficking tunnels. This crackdown gave rise to the indigenous weapons industry. Hamas expressed gratitude to Iran for providing military and financial backing through the recent conflict with Israel in a televised address Friday. Just hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire Ismail Haniyeh, a chief figure in Hamas, warned that it would continue to ‘defend’ Jerusalem. His remarks concurred with the comments made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday, who called on Muslim nations to take up arms in support of Palestinians.
The military wing is a vital part of Hamas and not a separate entity. High-level military operatives are part of the Hamas leadership and have a prominent role in decision making. In recent years, Hamas has made an enormous investment in advancing its tunnel operations and has built an extensive tunnel network, mainly enveloping the urban areas of Gaza. Tunnels are used for military purposes, including weapons storage, concealed manoeuvring, covert rocket launch sites, and even offensive attacks. This terror infrastructure is embedded in civilian areas and uses civilian buildings as entry points and cover for the tunnels themselves.