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The Hamas terror war against Israel

1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel in 2008.
The Hamas war against Israel

During the past two years there was a substantial increase in rocket fire compared with 2001-2005, the years before the disengagement (222 in 2005 and 268 in 2004). There was also a significant increase in the amount of mortar shell fire, another continuing trend. Rocket and mortar shell fire is relatively less lethal than suicide bombing attacks but has a devastating effect on the daily life and sense of security of the 200,000 residents of the western Negev.

The damage done by rockets to the civilian population of Sderot and other western Negev population centers cannot be measured only statistically in terms of dead and wounded. Studies done in recent years showed that the continued rocket fire and the large number of shock victims have led to post traumatic stress disorder among many of Sderot's residents (close to 30%). It influences their mental health and seriously damages the quality of their lives.

Most of the rockets are locally manufactured and have an approximate maximum range of 9 kilometers (6 miles), although some have a range of 12.5 kilometers (7 miles). In addition, also launched were a number of standard 122 mm rockets with a range of 20.4 kilometers (12 2/3 miles) which had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

In 2007 Hamas accelerated the military buildup of its military-terrorist wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades , which focuses on terrorist attacks against Israel and defense against the IDF; and of the internal security apparatus (i.e., the Executive Force integrated into the police), Hamas's main arm for internal control, which supports the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas's military buildup is manifested in a variety of ways: an increase in training (including sending operatives to Iran and Syria), improving its underground tunnel system, acquiring weapons and smuggling them into the Gaza Strip (especially standard rockets and advanced anti-tank missiles) and developing and manufacturing weapons (improving the range and penetration of rockets, manufacturing powerful explosive devices and anti-tank weapons, etc.).

The buildup is made possible by the Iranian and Syrian support of Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations), partly the result of the Egyptian government's ineffective response, which did not prevent the smuggling of weapons, money and terrorist operatives into the Gaza Strip through Rafah Crossing and the tunnels dug under the Philadelphi Route.

Selected statements by Hamas leaders

Ahmed Yousef, chief political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to "Der Spiegel" (2 Feb 2008): "If the Israelis want our blood, Im willing to sacrifice my children."

Ahmed Yousef, chief political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, regards knocking down the Rafah wall as the greatest success Hamas has scored since winning the parliamentary elections two years ago. Speaking from his Gaza City office, Yousef said he has received phone calls from around the world congratulating him on the action - including from self-appointed emissaries of European governments. "Hamas is once again a player to be reckoned with," exulted Yousef.

Ahmed Yousef would like to pull off another Rafah-style exploit, but this time against the Palestinians' archenemy, Israel. He is planning a mass march to the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza. "Were going to send half a million people there, mainly women and children. Then well see how the Israelis react," he says. A devilish scheme, since the Israelis would not react as passively to the storming of their border as the Egyptians did. But Yousef is not impressed by such objections. "If the Israelis want our blood, Im willing to sacrifice my children."

Yousef has already asked international observers to participate in the "march on Erez." Some have already agreed to come, and Yousef is happy about this. "This," he says, "is the beginning of the third Intifada."

From interview with former Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud A-Zahar (21 Aug 2007): Rocket barrage of Sderot is Hamas strategy.

The interviewer asked why Hamas chose to stop suicide bombings two years ago.

A-Zahar: "Which do you think is more effective, martyrdom operations or rockets against Sderot? Rockets against Sderot will cause mass migration, greatly disrupt daily lives and government administration and can make a much huger impact on the government. We are using the methods that convince the Israelis that their occupation is costing them too much."

"We are succeeding with the rockets. We have no losses and the impact on the Israeli side is so much."

Israeli communities within range of rocket fire from Gaza

A total of 223 rockets and 139 mortar shells were fired during the lull in the fighting (June 18 - Dec 19, 2008), most of them between November 4 and December 19.

During Operation Cast Lead (27 Dec 2008 - 18 Jan 2009), 571 rockets and 205 mortar shells landed in Israeli territory. Magen David Adom personnel treated and evacuated a total of 770 casualties: 4 fatalities, 4 severely wounded, 11 moderately and 167 lightly wounded. An additional 584 persons suffered from shock and anxiety syndrome.

Breakdown by year:


No. of rockets


No. of Mortar bombs



















108 until the withdrawal, 71 afterwards








421 until the Hamas takeover, 475 afterwards




571 rockets and 205 mortar shells during Operation Cast Lead




Jan 1 - Sept 29


Source: Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)

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From Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in mid-August 2005 until the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip 1,826 missiles were fired into Israeli territory from Gaza, as follows:

15 August - 31 December 2005: 270
1 January - 31 December 2006: 1020
1 January - 14 June 2007: 536

Missile fire since the disengagement from Gaza

Note: All of these statistics relate to identified hits in Israeli territory. The total number of rockets launched is about 20% more and includes failed launchings as well as rockets that fell short (inside the Gaza Strip) or in the sea.

The statistics used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are taken from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC) under the direction of Dr. Reuven Ehrlich.