Israel’s military expects Palestinian rocket and missile strikes from the West Bank by 2007.
Military sources said the Intelligence Corps has determined that Palestinian insurgency groups would acquire sufficient technology and components to assemble missiles modeled after the Hamas-origin Kassam. The sources said Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have conducted tests of crude missiles and rockets.
“At this point, the main thing stopping rocket strikes against Israel from the West Bank is the inability by local Palestinians to design a weapon with sufficient range,” a military source said. “A missile or rocket that can travel one or two kilometers has little value.”
On Wednesday, former military operations chief Maj. Gen. Yisrael Ziv warned Palestinian insurgents were developing a missile and rocket capability in the West Bank. Ziv told a conference sponsored by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya that insurgents were seeking to conduct strikes against Israel to overcome the security wall along the West Bank.
“Terror organizations are looking for new ways to attack inside the Green Line [pre-1967 Israel], including the use of short-range rockets,” Ziv said. “Such attacks could take place very soon.”
The sources said Palestinian insurgency groups have deemed missile production in the West Bank a priority. They said Hizbullah plans to increase funding and technology to these groups to ensure missile strikes from the West Bank by 2007.
The Hizbullah war with Israel has bolstered the resolve of Palestinian insurgents to manufacture rockets and missiles, the sources said. They said Palestinian groups were impressed by the flight of 350,000 Israelis from their homes in the north amid Hizbullah rocket strikes in July and August. In all, Hizbullah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel.
“The components and designs for missiles are coming from the Gaza Strip via the Sinai,” a source said. “There are camel convoys bringing loads of components and weapons through the Dead Sea area to the Judean Desert, where they are taken by smugglers.”