Explained

Mortars, Rockets and Drones: A Look at Hamas' Arsenal

Hamas' offensive capabilities include rockets, mortars, the network of tunnels beneath Gaza, and a growing number of drone aircraft

A Qassam-A rocket on display at a rally in Rafah, Gaza, August 21, 2018.
Adel Hana,AP

Before Operation Protective Edge began in the summer of 2014, Hamas had about 11,000 rockets in Gaza. According to intelligence assessments at the time, most were short-range with some mid-range and long-range.

At the end of the war, it was estimated that Hamas still had about a third of its rockets left. It began rebuilding its arsenal and a year ago, Hamas was already in possession of more rockets than before the 2014 war.

Defense officials now estimate that Israeli military operations over the past year have reduced the number of rockets to several thousand.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 26Haaretz

The offensive means of Hamas, an organization with about 30,000 activists in its military wing, also includes the network of tunnels beneath Gaza, some of which cross into Israel, and a growing number of drone aircraft.

Hamas forces in 2019
Hamas missile range

Hamas’ rockets and missiles

M-75

A long-range rocket produced by Hamas in Gaza that can reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The rocket is not equipped with a guidance system so its accuracy is limited, but its long range makes it effective. It first came into use in 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense and is based on technology from Iran. It has a maximum range of 70 to 75 kilometers (43 to 47 miles) and carries a 10-kilogram warhead.

Grad

A 122 mm Soviet short to mid-range rocket. The Grad was developed by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s and is now one of the most common rockets in the world. It is also used by Islamic Jihad in Gaza. It has a maximum range of 40 kilometers and carries a 20-kilogram warhead.

J-80

A long-range rocket manufactured by Hamas that can reach the Tel Aviv area, the southern Sharon region and Jerusalem. It was named for Hamas official Ahmed Ja’abari who was assassinated in 2012. It has a maximum range of 100 kilometers and a 20-kilogram warhead.

WS-1E

An upgraded version of the Grad rocket that is made in China and is capable of reaching Ashdod and Be’er Sheva. Its maximum range is said to be 40 kilometers, but in the past, it has fallen as far as 43-45 kilometers from Gaza. Its warhead weighs between 18 and 22 kilograms.

Qassam

A surface-to-surface rocket made of a simple metal pipe packed with explosives. It was developed by Hamas and is made in Gaza. This is a primitive short-range rocket with very minimal accuracy. The first of them were made from traffic sign posts. There are several versions: Qassam 1 with a maximum range of 3 kilometers and a warhead weighing half a kilogram; Qassam 2 with a range of 8 kilometers and a 5-7 kilogram warhead; Qassam 3 with a 10-kilometer range and a 10-20 kilogram warhead.

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Fajr

An Iranian-made rocket first produced in 1991 with the aid of North Korea and China. Iran has transferred Fajr rockets to Hezbollah and Hamas. There are two models: Fajr 3 with a maximum range of 40 kilometers and a 45-kilogram warhead; and Fajr 5 with a maximum range of 75 kilometers and a 90-kilogram warhead.

M-302 (Khaibar)

A Syrian-made rocket that Iran supplies to Hamas. Long-range rockets of this type were found on board the Klos-C that was captured by Israel in March 2014. There are several versions (A to E) with a maximum range of 90-200 kilometers and warheads ranging from 125-170 kilograms.

R-160

A long-range rocket produced by Hamas. The R stands for Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas founder assassinated by the IDF in 2004, and the 160 refers to the rocket’s purported range of 160 kilometers. It was first used during the 2014 Gaza war when it was launched at Haifa, 120 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

Sejjil-55

A rocket with a maximum range of 55-kilometers and a 10-kilogram warhead that was first used in the 2014 war.

Mortars

Hamas has thousands of 82mm and 120mm mortars.

Israeli Iron Dome interceptor system, Haifa, February 12, 2019.
\ POOL/ REUTERS

Hamas is constantly working to upgrade its rocket capabilities and, more than anything, to enable its rockets to circumvent the Iron Dome system. Iran is providing Hamas with the technical know-how to produce better, longer-range rockets.

Hamas has dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, mainly of the Strela type. The SA-7 is a guided shoulder-launched missile with an infrared homing system to be used against low-flying targets. Hamas also has anti-tank missiles, mostly Russian-made Kornet missiles. This was the type of missile that was fired on a bus near the Gaza border in December 2018. Hamas acquired some of its anti-aircraft missiles from Libya after the fall of Gadhafi.

The tunnel network

Another aspect of Hamas's offensive capabilities is its network of offensive tunnels under Gaza, which allows it to move people from place to place. The tunnels have been Hamas's biggest project since the end of the 2014 Gaza war. According to estimates, the organization has invested 40 percent of its military wing's funds into the project.

Since construction began on an Israeli barrier on the Gaza border and improvement of Israeli defense technology in the field, the Israeli army has destroyed many tunnels that penetrated into Israel. Additional cross-border tunnels are suspected to exist, and the Israeli army believes it knows where they are located.

Air power

The Iron Dome makes it difficult for Hamas to inflict substantial damage with rockets. After the 2014 Gaza war, the organization decided to focus its efforts on creating air power based on drones. Iran provided Hamas with several UAVs. In one show of power by Hamas, it presented an Iranian Ababil drone that can be launched from a truck. In the past, Hamas claimed to possess three types of UAVs for different purposes: The A1A for intelligence gathering; the A1B for attacks and the A1C for “suicide” attack missions by the aircraft.

In the past year, Hamas established an air unit that operates UAVs, mainly for intelligence purposes. There have been drone infiltrations into Israel from Gaza, with some being intercepted and others returning to Gaza unscathed. Drones have been spotted near Ashdod and Ashkelon, and in both instances, the Israeli army intercepted the aircraft with the assistance of Patriot missiles. However, the aircraft are not a significant force and, for Hamas, the primary advantage of these aircraft is their media impact.

The Hamas aircraft project suffered a serious blow in December 2016 when aerial engineer Mohammed Alzoari, a leader of Hamas's drone development program, was shot to death in Tunisia. During episodes of fighting over the past year, the Israeli military hit Hamas drone warehouses and production sites in Gaza.

Islamic Jihad

Islamic Jihad is in possession of about 8,000 rockets in Gaza, a larger quantity than what Hamas has. Most of the rockets are small and medium-range, but there are also several hundred long-range rockets.

The rockets are identical to Hamas' but have different names. Islamic Jihad has few, if any, tunnels. Islamic Jihad has about 6,000 fighters and about 9,000 activists. Other, smaller organizations in the Gaza Strip are in possession of hundreds or thousands of mortar shells.