Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Intifada is going high tech

The Palestinians used to only fire off inaccurate Qassam rockets that were cobbled together in their houses. They now have access to longer range and more accurate missiles manufactured in Iran and China. Access to this higher grade weaponry may have prompted Israel to act when they did. The expected lack of support from the Obama administration may have also played a factor.
Intifada Tech
The story behind the rockets that started a war
By Stuart Fox Posted 01.06.2009 at 3:16 pm 12 Comments

WS-1-E: A WS-1-E, a Chinese-manufactured rocket Hamas is known to possess, being fired from a truck. Courtesy

While it’s a safe bet that few Hamas members know the lyrics to “the Star Spangled Banner”, very little separates their activities from those witnessed by Francis Scott Key centuries ago. In what has become a hallmark of guerilla war, Hamas has used a mixture of low-tech weapons and simple tactics to stymie a technologically superior enemy.

On January 3rd, Israel launched a ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, partly in response to rocket fire that hit deeper into Israel than ever before. During the Israeli occupation of Gaza, Hamas rocket fire consisted primarily of homemade rockets only capable of hitting the southern-most Israelis cities. After taking over the Gaza Strip in 2006, Hamas acquired the new rockets with the expanded range. However, the increased range doesn’t imply advanced technology.

“‘It's the "rocket's red glare’ rockets that we used at the battle of Fort McHenry in 1812,
said John Pike, director of “It's a solid fuel and an oxidizer, hot stuff comes out the back end, and there's an explosive on the pointy end. It's pretty simple.”

According to Pike, rocket technology is no different from any other ballistic technology, be it catapult, trebuchet or a thrown rock. Unlike, a missile, which changes direction as it flies, rockets are at the whim of gravity after launch.

The older rockets used by Hamas, the Qassam, were homemade projectiles assembled from whatever was handy. These rockets were more psychologically damaging than physically, and failed to produce significant casualties.

Recently, Hamas imported factory manufactured rockets from China and Iran. Based on a family of Soviet rockets dating back to World War II, these rockets have the range to hit many more Israeli cities, and their introduction help precipitate the current conflict. Full story here.

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