Israel army bracing for Hamas missiles with longer range: report

18:34, December 09, 2009      

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command is preparing for the possibility that Hamas will fire missiles up to a range of 80 km from Gaza in case of a future conflict with Israel, local daily The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The preparations on several different levels within the IDF focus on preparing officials of regional councils and municipalities within the range -- including Tel Aviv -- for the possibility of missiles and rockets landing in their communities, said the report.

The army is also preparing information kits that could be distributed in the affected areas, as well as Home Front Command reserve units that would need to be deployed there in the event of rocket attacks, added the report.

During the Israeli offensive in Gaza in January, Grad-type rockets, Qassam rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel's southern territory, with projectiles hitting Beersheba, some 40 km from the Gaza Strip.

In late September, Hamas fired a missile with a 60-km range from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea, said the newspaper.

Early November, Major General Amos Yadlin, head of military intelligence for the IDF, warned that Hamas operatives in Gaza possess rockets in their military arsenal that are capable of striking Tel Aviv, adding that this latest development is indicative of Hamas' growing military capabilities.

The IDF believes that Hamas has obtained Iranian-made Fajr missiles, either the Fajr 3 or Fajr 5.

The five-meter-long Fajr 3 can carry a 45-kg warhead. To increase the rocket's range, Hamas has the option of shrinking the warhead to 25 or 30 kg, enabling it to strike deeper into Tel Aviv.

The 10-meter-long Fajr 5 has a range of up to 75 km, which could reach Tel Aviv, as well as communities further up the coast.

Israeli intelligence assessments are that Hamas smuggled the missiles into Gaza through tunnels, possibly as separate components.

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