The Qassam rockets being launched daily at Jewish communities in Gaza have become more deadly the past two weeks, security officials told WND.

Katif resident displays Qassam rocket that fell in her backyard. Photo: WND.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been launching an average of three rockets or mortars per day at Gush Katif, the largest area of Jewish communities in Gaza scheduled for evacuation Aug. 15. Terrorists yesterday fired one Qassam rocket and five mortar shells and last week launched over 25 mortars and 10 Qassams at several Gaza Jewish neighborhoods.

Most rockets land in empty fields. Some hit homes, usually causing moderate damage. Earlier this month, three workers were killed when a Qassam rocket hit a Gaza Jewish greenhouse.

But the rockets fired at Gush Katif the past two weeks have been improved to cause a larger numbers of casualties, Katif’s chief security coordinator, Ami Shaked, told WND.

Shaked said the rockets the IDF has been finding since mid-June have been packed with more explosive material and with additional shrapnel, iron loggers and nails.

“There was a major increase in the deadly components of the Qassams. These new ones are meant to have a bigger explosion and also send more metal fragments shooting off in different directions to kill more people,” Shaked said.

In addition, Gaza security officials said Hamas this week planned to fire large anti-tank missiles at Ganei Tal, a mid-sized Jewish community in Gush Katif.

As this summer’s evacuation draws closer, the rocket attacks are expected to increase exponentially so Palestinian terror groups can claim to their supporters they drove Israel from Gaza, security analysts contend.

Some worry after the Gaza evacuation Hamas will use the territory gained to stage rocket attacks deeper inside Israel.

Qassams are relatively unsophisticated steel rockets, about four feet in length, filled with explosives and fuel. The rockets lack a guidance system and are launched by militants 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,” said Shaked.

Of particular concern for the IDF is the development of longer-range Qassam missiles that, if launched by terrorists in the West Bank, could strike cities in Israel’s coastal heartland.

In August 2003, a Qassam traveled five miles from the Gaza Strip into Israel and landed near Ashkelon, the farthest a Qassam rocket has penetrated.

Hamas also recently started manufacturing a new rocket, the Nasser 3, capable of reaching farther than even the updated Qassam, security sources said. Unlike Qassams, the Nasser has a warhead that guarantees an explosion, the sources said.

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