JERUSALEM – Hamas will begin the next phase of its war to destroy the Jewish state by launching Qassam rockets at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and West Bank communities instead of focusing on suicide bombings, the terror group explained on its website.

Materials found in West Bank Qassam lab. Photo: IDF spokesperson.

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. The Israeli army has done little to stop the rocket attacks.

Now Hamas has published an article on its website stating it will extend its Qassam manufacturing and firing capabilities to the West Bank. It warned it will launch a rocket onslaught against Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, until the Jewish state is destroyed.

“Should the Zionist army partially withdraw from the cities of the West Bank … 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,” stated the Hamas article, translated by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies in Israel.

Hamas admitted Israel’s West Bank security barrier has diminished its ability to infiltrate Israeli cities and carry out suicide attacks, but it explained the rockets cannot be stopped:

“All the bombings of the workshops carried out by the Zionist army failed. The manufacturing of Qassam rockets has not stopped; quite the opposite, it has been upgraded.

Materials confiscated from West Bank rocket lab Photo: IDF spokesperson.

“From a technical standpoint, the Zionist army presently does not have any means to intercept an airborne Qassam rocket. The only possibility, therefore, of stopping the fire, if possible, is to strike the operating cells or the rockets themselves, a moment before they are launched.

“A pre-emptive strike against the attacking cell is a complicated and almost impossible affair. According to the assessments of the Zionist army, the members of the resistance bring the missiles in vans and unload them under the cover of agricultural activity. This makes them more difficult to expose. Furthermore, the timeframe available to the Zionist forces is a quarter of an hour at the most. It takes that long for the resistance members to aim the rockets and activate them at a distance using an electronic timer. To foil the action, the army needs to keep combat helicopters in the air for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is, therefore, highly bothersome.”

The terror group scoffed at any Israeli attempt to establish a buffer between Israeli and Palestinian population centers.

“The idea of establishing a security zone in the West Bank is not considered to be an effective one. … The entire distance between Qalqilya and occupied ‘Tel Aviv’ is no greater than 7 kilometers. The distance between Netanya and Tulkarm is no greater than 4 kilometers. Ramallah and Bethlehem are adjacent to Jerusalem. The settlements are everywhere.”

Hamas went on to explain that to reach Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, the terror group doesn’t need to improve the range of the current Qassam rocket it uses.

“Jerusalem and other cities will all fall within the range of the Qassam 1 rocket, and there will not even be need for the Qassam 2 rocket.”

Israeli retaliatory attacks will not establish deterrence against missile launchings, Hamas stated.

“The only solution, as far as the Zionist establishment is concerned, is severe retaliation for every Qassam rocket launched, in order to teach the Palestinians a lesson and make them think a thousand times before launching any kind of rocket. [But] have all the previous mass murders and the acts of hostility carried out as collective punishment quenched the fire of resistance, or, rather, have they served as a catalyst for the increasing sophistication of the creative methods of the resistance [factions]?”

Israeli security sources say Hamas has been using time gained from a cease-fire agreement signed in February by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stockpile weapons and extend its Qassam manufacturing capabilities to the West Bank.

In March, the Israeli Defense Forces destroyed a large Qassam laboratory in the West Bank village of Al-Yamoun. Earlier, the army arrested 11 members of a West Bank Hamas cell who admitted during interrogation to producing Qassam rockets and constructing a laboratory for the manufacturing of heavy explosives.

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 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, chief security coordinator for Gaza’s Jewish communities, told WND.

Of particular concern for the IDF is the development of longer-range Qassam missiles that could strike Jerusalem if launched from certain West Bank areas.

In August 2003, a Qassam traveled 5 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.

Previous stories:

Rockets hitting Jewish Gaza now more deadly

Gaza soldiers: Israel allowing attacks on Jews

Gaza security chief: Israel allowing attacks on Jews

Israel allowing attacks on Jews?

Attack on Jewish Gaza continues

Barrage of rockets smash into Jewish Gaza

Editor’s note: “ISRAEL BETRAYED?” – the July issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine – is devoted entirely to an in-depth exploration of the controversial forced removal of thousands of Jewish residents from Gaza planned for August, and the likely creation of a Hamas-run terror state many believe will follow. Read more about “ISRAEL BETRAYED?”

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