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TEL AVIV – Now that Israel has withdrawn its troops and citizens from Gaza, Hamas will continue the next phase of its “war to destroy the Jewish state” by focusing on Qassam rocket attacks instead of suicide bombings, a research center affiliated with Hamas announced in a published study.

The disclosure coincides with a statement earlier this week by Hamas’ Gaza leader Mahmoud al-Zahar vowing the terror group will halt all attacks from Gaza, including the firing of rockets.

“The movement (Hamas) announces it has stopped its operations from the Gaza Strip against the Zionist occupation,” al-Zohar said. “Hamas is committed to protect Palestinian people from the Zionist entity. … The movement is concerned for the Palestinian national interest.”

Al-Zohar’s comments were reported extensively this week by the international media.

But according to the Al-Mustaqbal Research Center in Gaza, “the Qassam rockets will be the strategic weapon (for Hamas) in the coming period of time [now that Israel withdrew from Gaza]. Hamas will focus on firing Qassam rockets on Israeli towns adjacent to the Gaza Strip.”

Al-Mustaqbal is headed by a Palestinian professor, and, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies, is associated with Hamas and is known to publish surveys and studies which reflect the terror group’s attitudes.

The study predicted the Jewish state will retaliate against Palestinian organizations for any rocket fire, but will be unable to successfully quell the rocket threat.

Al-Mustaqbal also said Hamas and other “Palestinian resistance groups” will extend their rocket-producing capabilities to the West Bank, since Israel’s security barrier in the area has made terrorist infiltrations and suicide bombings difficult.

“After the construction of the fence, [suicide attacks] have become extremely difficult. … However, Qassam attacks cannot be stopped easily. … the fence is useless against such attacks,” states the study, which said Palestinian groups will move mortars and rockets into the West Bank “in large quantities.”

The report is the second study Al-Mustaqbal published warning of an onslaught of Qassam rocket fire against Israeli towns following Israel’s Gaza withdrawal. As WND reported the research center in June published a paper stating Hamas will “[massively] use upgraded Qassam rockets, the strategic weapons of the future Palestinian-Israeli conflict” after the disengagement.

Indeed, since Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza earlier this month, Palestinian terrorists have fired over 30 mortars and rockets at Sderot and other Israeli Negev towns.

Hamas itself recently announced on its official website the terror group will launch Qassam rockets at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and communities in Judea and Samaria, WND exclusively reported.

“Afula, Hadera, Beit She’an, Netanya, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities will all fall within the range of the Qassam rocket. … The implication is that this rocket, which was previously looked upon with disdain by many, will serve as the weapon of choice in the coming period of time, as the acts of suicide martyrdom served as the weapon of choice during all the previous years,” the Hamas site stated.

The Hamas site continued: “From a technical standpoint, the Zionist army presently does not have any means to intercept an airborne Qassam rocket. A pre-emptive strike against the attacking cell is a complicated and almost impossible affair.”

Qassams are relatively unsophisticated steel rockets, about four feet in length, filled with explosives and fuel. They lack a guidance system and are launched by terrorists in nearby towns who reportedly use the rocket’s trajectory and known travel distance to aim at a particular Jewish community.

About 20 percent of Qassams do not explode upon impact.

“As far as rockets go, they may be low tech, but if they land in a population center, they’re incredibly deadly,” Ami Shaked, former chief security coordinator for Gaza’s now evacuated Jewish communities, told WND.

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