On the evening of May 10, Palestinian armed groups began a massive shelling of Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip. Attacks are carried out by artillery forces, using rockets of various types, as well as using unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-tank missile systems. Most of these items were manufactured in Gaza or sourced from friendly countries.
Systematic attacks on Israeli territory from Gaza began in 2001-2002. Such shelling is carried out by the militant wing of the Hamas organization and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the principled and implacable opponents of Israel. The first attacks were directed at the city of Sderot, located 4 km from the border of the Gaza Strip. Then, after the appearance of new rockets, shelling of the city of Ashkelon (9 km from the border) and more remote settlements began.
Further progress in artisanal missile production and the transfer of technology made it possible to expand the areas of possible strikes. Now the entire southern and central part of Israel is at risk, including several large cities, incl. Tel Aviv. One of the prerequisites for this is the country's special geography. Due to the limited size of Israel and the rather dense location of settlements, even missiles with a range of no more than 20-40 km are a great danger.
Missiles are launched from the territory of the Gaza Strip, from self-propelled and stationary installations, mainly handicraft. Launchers are often carefully camouflaged, not used immediately, and are remotely controlled. Due to such measures, their preservation until the planned moment of firing is ensured and possible losses of personnel are reduced. The fact is that Israel is closely monitoring the situation in Gaza and is trying to identify the positions of enemy missiles. If possible, they are attacked before use - or immediately after firing.
According to Israeli reports, Palestinian missilemen are cunning and cruel. Launchers are placed in residential buildings or near social infrastructure facilities. This is done so that the retaliatory strike could harm the civilian population - and gave rise to accusations and revenge.
Recently, mobile installations have been used not only for missiles, but also for the purpose of launching UAVs. Such equipment, like missiles, is produced in Gaza or, presumably, come from friendly countries. The anti-tank systems used are only of foreign origin. Such technologies are too complex for Hamas masters.
Savings on "Kassams"
For two decades, the main weapon of the Palestinian formations has been the unguided Qassam missiles. Initially, it was the weapon of Hamas, but later its name extended to the entire spectrum of artisanal missiles. Their common features are maximum design simplicity and low cost, for which you have to pay for short range, low accuracy and minimum reliability.
Rocket housings are made from pipes and sheet metal. The warhead and the solid-propellant engine use self-made mixtures based on the available components. There are several basic modifications of the "Kassams" with different parameters.The most advanced designs fly 16-20 km and deliver a warhead weighing 10-20 kg.
Over time, the level of production of "Kassams" has increased markedly. Also, despite opposition from Israel, the production capacity of Hamas has increased. As a result, artisanal missiles became more sophisticated and more widespread - one of the results of this was the current shelling.
Factory-made missile weapons also enter the Gaza Strip from third countries. First of all, these are 122-mm unguided shells of the "Grad" system, their foreign counterparts and analogues, such as the Iranian "Arash" or "Nur". The firing range from 15-20 to 35-40 km allows attacking more distant cities or placing firing positions further from the border.
Factory missiles compare favorably with handicrafts in all characteristics and therefore pose a particular danger to Israel. However, the accuracy and consequences of the use of the "Grad" directly depends on the launcher. Not all such products are of high quality, which leads to misses.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, anti-Israeli organizations have been receiving material assistance from Iran. Deliveries of ready-made unguided missiles of various types were carried out. In addition, Iranian specialists helped to master the production of weapons of several types at the underground enterprises of Gaza. Missiles of these types compare favorably with the "Kassams" with a longer range and an enhanced warhead.
The most common "imported" and "localized" missile is the Fajr-5 product. Initially, it was developed as ammunition for the eponymous MLRS, but is often used as a weapon for single launches. The missile is 6.5 m long and has a diameter of 333 mm, weighs 915 kg and carries a 175-kg warhead. The launch range reaches 75 km.
Initially, Hamas workshops assembled the original version of Fajra-5, slightly modified for their technological capabilities. In the future, on the basis of the Iranian missile, they created an improved ammunition with increased characteristics. The M-75 missile is distinguished by an increased body diameter, which made it possible to strengthen the warhead, as well as increase the solid fuel charge, bringing the range to 120 km.
In recent years, Palestinian formations have been actively developing the unmanned direction and have been very successful in it. Reportedly, in the current attacks from the Ghana sector, UAVs are used that hit the target with a direct hit. Thus, for the first time, guided weapons for the destruction of ground targets appeared at the disposal of Hamas or "Islamic Jihad".
The main (perhaps the only) example of this kind at the moment is the Shehab UAV. The external and technical similarities suggest that this product is based on the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle "Ababil-2". Iran has already transferred such equipment to friendly organizations and even helped with the launch of production. Probably, "Shehab" for Hamas has the same origin.
The Shehab is a medium-sized, single-use, rail-launched vehicle. It is designed as a "canard", has one keel and is equipped with an internal combustion engine with a pusher propeller. On board there is a high-explosive fragmentation warhead of limited mass. Guidance is carried out using satellite navigation - the UAV is capable of attacking targets only with known coordinates. In fact, it is a kind of ground-launch cruise missile.
A characteristic feature of "Ababil-2" and its derivatives is the widespread use of available commercial components and the relative ease of production. Thus, in the future, Palestinian gunsmiths, using the technology and experience gained, will be able to create new combat UAVs of one kind or another.
A growing threat
Palestinian formations have a wide range of weapons of various classes, which are regularly used against Israel.In just two decades, they have passed a significant way from simple rockets with a range of kilometers to full-fledged rockets flying 100-120 km and carrying a heavy charge. ATGMs are also widely used and UAVs find their place.
As the events of recent days show, Hamas and other organizations, independently or with help from abroad, are quite capable of accumulating significant arsenals of missile and other weapons, preparing firing positions and then launching a massive and prolonged attack. In the first four days of the shelling alone, about 2 thousand ammunition of all classes was used, which caused damage to Israel in tens of millions of shekels.
It should be noted that the Israeli side is taking all the necessary measures. In the past, a fairly large and powerful missile defense system was created and deployed, intercepting the vast majority of dangerous objects. Reconnaissance of enemy firing positions is also conducted, followed by a strike at ready-to-launch or fired installations. There are raids on workshops and command posts.
It is obvious that the Arab-Israeli confrontation will not end in the near future, and the exchange of missile and air strikes will continue, which will contribute to the further development of the weapons systems of both sides. Accordingly, the Palestinian forces will be armed with new models, both domestic and foreign, and Israel will have to create promising means of protection against them.