Haaretz WikiLeaks Exclusive / Iran Providing Hamas With Smuggle-ready Rockets, Says IDF

The Iranian rockets can be dismantled and reassembled fairly simply, making them easier to smuggle into the Gaza Strip via tunnels, says IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel.

Iran is manufacturing special missiles for Hamas that can be smuggled through tunnels into the Gaza Strip, according to the report of a conversation between Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel and U.S. ambassador to Israel James Cunningham.

A cable on the discussion, which also involved senior officials of the U.S. State Department and Defense Department who came to Israel in February 2009, was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on February 19 and is part of the WikiLeaks documents Haaretz is exclusively reporting.

A Grad-type Katyusha rocket
Albert Denkberg

Harel, who has meanwhile retired from the IDF, spoke at the meeting about Katyusha, Grad and Fajr rockets. The Katyusha was originally manufactured in the former Soviet Union, and was developed before World War II. It comes in diameters of 107 millimeters and 122 millimeters, with a range of up to 40 kilometers.

The Fajr ("dawn" ) is a rocket made in Iran with North Korean assistance. There are two types of Fajr - the Fajr 3 with a diameter of 240 millimeters and a range of about 45 kilometers, and the Fajr 5, at 333 millimeters with a range of 75 kilometers. Harel did not say which Fajr he was referring to.

In response to a question by one of the American visitors about the sophistication of Hamas weaponry, Harel replied that Hamas had Chinese and Iranian-made 122 mm rockets with a range of up to 30 kilometers. He also noted that the Iranian version of the 122 mm rocket "was designed specifically for Hamas, as it came in four pieces that could fit through narrow tunnels and be reassembled in Gaza."

According to the cable: "Harel also stated that sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs ) were found in Gaza, to include the Russian-made Konkours system. Hamas also had SA-7 surface-to-air missiles and sophisticated improvised explosive devices of all varieties. Lastly, Harel said that Israel has sensitive intelligence that Iran is constructing an additional Hamas-specific missile, based on the Fajr, that will have a range beyond 40 kilometers."

When asked how serious Egypt was about preventing weapons smuggling, Harel reiterated statements by other Israeli spokesmen in other WikiLeaks documents Haaretz has published that: "Cooperation against smuggling is better with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman [who was the Egyptian intelligence minister] than it is with Egyptian Military Commander Field Marshal Tantawi [defense minister, and now head of the military council now ruling Egypt]."

According to the cable, Harel asked the United States to use its leverage to get Cairo to take more serious steps to stop the smuggling.

The cable states that Harel suggested two methods of doing so. The first: "there are only four major paved roads, and Egypt could easily interdict these routes with road blocks." The second was for Egypt to close its border with Sudan.