Hamas has new missile to fire into Israel

By Aaron Klein

Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is manufacturing a new kind of rocket in hopes of switching tactics from suicide bombings to firing missiles deep inside Israel after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon completes a withdrawal from Gaza.

The new rocket, named Nasser 3, is the most powerful and furthest reaching rocket produced yet in the Palestinian territories. The rocket carries a five-kilogram warhead to a range of 9 kilometers and has a standard explosive warhead combined with metal fragments and a standard fuse.

Previously, the Palestinians had been using Qassam 2 rockets, which used improvised fuses and warheads that didn’t always explode upon impact. The Nasser 3 is built to guarantee an explosion.

Since November 2001, some 350 Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza at targets within the Green Line, causing few casualties and minor damage. Israeli officially initially dismissed Palestinian rocket firing as largely ineffective, though it was recognized that the rockets had the potential to become a more significant threat.

“The Nasser 3 brings things to a whole new level of warfare,” a security source told WND. “Hamas knows they can’t get inside Israel because of the security fence, and they are setting the stages for a major shift in tactics from suicide bombings to firing effective rockets from Palestinian areas deep inside Israel.”

The IDF believes most of the Nasser 3’s components are manufactured within Gaza and that Hezbollah engineers trained the Palestinians in rocket construction. The fuses and some parts of the explosives were likely smuggled from the underground tunnels connecting Egypt to the Rafah refugee camp.

The rocket is cased in a 110-120 millimeter diameter steel water pipe, containing some 20 kilograms of improvised solid propellant, usually manufactured from available potassium nitrate fertilizer and powdered sugar.

“It appears there was some improvement in the propellant’s mixture, which we cannot yet determine,” an Israeli police explosive specialist said.

The Nasser 3 has four stabilizing fins welded to the casing and is launched from rails mounted on a bipod. An electric fuse, triggered by a timing mechanism or a live rocket crew, ignites the rocket’s engine.

The new Nasser 3 rockets were recently tested by Hamas and fired from Gaza toward the southern Israeli town of Sderot on June 28, killing two residents, one of them a 3-year-old child.

The IDF has been debating how best to respond to the new rocket threat. Israel has been using both ground and airborne observation platforms, including use of a 24-hour thermal camera, combined with an upgraded artillery-locating radar to detect and attack rocket-firing teams.

Sharon’s chief spokesman, Raanan Gissin, would not comment on specific plans Israel is implementing, but told WND: “Israel will deal with this threat and we will suppress it. The rockets are a major violation of the so-called rules of the game.”