The Qassam rocket is a simple steel rocket filled with explosives, developed by the Palestinian organization Hamas. Three models have been used. All three models lack a guidance system. Qassam rockets are named after the Izz ad-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. According to the brigades, the Qassam rocket was first developed by Nidal Fat’hi Rabah Farahat and produced under the direction of Adnan al-Ghoul, known as the “Father of the Qassam,” who was killed by the Israeli military in October 2004.
The rockets have been used to attack various Israeli towns. In some areas, such as Sderot in the Negev and some Israeli settlements in Gaza, shelling occurs almost daily. However, they rarely cause any injuries, and they did not kill an Israeli until June 28, 2004. A particular concern for the Israelis is the development of longer range Qassam missiles that if fielded by Hamas in the West Bank would be used to strike at the cities in the country’s coastal heartland (Israel is a very narrow strip of land). 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. Other Israeli communities in the Negev to have been hit by Qassam rockets include: Or HaNer, Nirim and Nahal Oz.
Despite the Qassam’s meager characteristics as a rocket, its use shocked the Israeli military and public, who are used to the Palestinians lacking any method of long-range warfare. Hezbollah, in contrast, has long shelled Israel from Lebanon using the Katyusha rocket, hitting cities as well as farms and military targets in the sparsely populated northern border zone.
Israel has tried to stop the development and manufacture of such rockets by extensive crackdowns on suspected terrorists, and by the destruction of facilities (such as metal shops) which could be, or actively are, used for their construction. It has also destroyed the family homes of many Palestinians it claims have been involved in the smuggling or firing of rockets.
On June 28, 2004, the first fatal Qassam rocket attack occurred in Sderot, when one of four rockets launched by Hamas’ Ezzedeen-al-qassam brigades killed two israelis, Afik Zahavi, 4 and Mordechai Yosefov, 49.
On September 29, 2004, a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot, killing two Israeli children, Dorit Aniso, 2 and Yuval Abebeh, 4 . It was the second fatal Qassam rocket attack. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
On October 3, 2004, Mahadi Mushtaha, a senior member of the Qassam production and development team in the Gaza Strip was killed by an Israeli targeted assassination. Mushtaha, a resident of the Jabalia refugee camp, was alleged to have been the manager of workshops and labs producing components of the Qassam rockets.
On January 21, 2005, Ayala Haya Abukasis, 17, died from wounds sustained six days earlier during a Qassam rocket attack in Sderot. She became the fifth israeli to die at the result of Qassam rocket attacks.On March 2, 2005, IDF forces discovered a bomb–lab near Jenin that manufactures Qassam rockets. IDF Sappers safely detonated the lab, which contained many explosives and a Qassam rocket in initial stage of production. This is not the first time that a Qassam rocket was found in the West Bank.
- Palestinian terrorist groups also developed home-made rockets, but they are much less common than Hamas’ Qassam rocket.
- Hamas – Qassam rocket (models 1, 2 and 3)
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad – Al Quds rocket
- Popular Resistance Committees – al-Nasser rocket (models 1,2,3 and 4)
- Tanzim – Seraya rocket
- Fatah – Kafah rocket
Keyword(s): Qassam rockets, Kassam rockets