Alex Fishman, the top military intelligence analyst for Israel’s leading newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, has provided the public with documentation that Hamas’s military industry in the Gaza Strip is

preparing to independently manufacture a rocket modeled after the Katyusha, with a diameter of 122 millimeters, and a range of up to 20 kilometers. From Beit Hanoun, such Katyusha rockets would be able to reach the outskirts of Kiryat Gat and would cover the entire area of Ashkelon.

The Israeli security establishment has accumulated information indicating that Hamas engineers are engaged in intensive learning for building a production line of rockets in the Gaza Strip. Among others, the Hamas engineers are making use of the Grad rockets smuggled into the Gaza Strip. These rockets were disassembled, and their mechanisms were studied and duplicated. In addition, knowledge has reached the Gaza Strip for manufacturing standard-issue rockets similar to the Katyusha. According to the plans, the new rockets would replace the Kassam rockets being manufactured today by Hamas.

According to the assessment from informed security sources, the Katyusha-like rockets are expected to appear on the scene in the Gaza Strip within a few months. This refers to a rocket with a range twice that of the Kassam rocket. The rocket’s warhead could hold four to five kilograms of explosives, as opposed to one kilogram currently found in Kassam rocket warheads.

In the past, several Grad rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, but the fire was not effective, since the Palestinians did not know how to launch them.

Katyusha rocket production is part of Hamas’s plan for gaining strength and building up its forces in the Gaza Strip. Security sources say that Hamas’s success in the past two weeks in causing damage and taking a toll of victims by means of Kassam rocket fire attests to the constant improvement in this primitive rocket.

The average range of a Kassam rocket is 10-11 kilometers, in comparison with a range of 7-8 kilometers in the previous model. The accuracy of the improved rocket is greater, as a result of advanced launching techniques and use of standard-issue explosives. The warhead of the improved Kassam rocket is deadlier than the previous model. In the past three weeks, an average number of six to eight Kassam rockets per day have been fired at Israel.

This is in contrast with two-three rockets a month ago.