Israel Banks on a Fence
The Future of Palestine
Israel's New Strategy
Can Hamas Be Tamed?
The Hamas Conundrum
The Untamed Shrew, Four Years On
Letter From Gaza: Hamas the Opportunist
Hamas’ Tunnel Diplomacy
How to Handle Hamas
The Perils of Ignoring Gaza's Leadership
The Palestinian Spring?
Hamas and Fatah Have Unified, but not Yet Reconciled
Israel's Gamble in Gaza
The Perils of Operation Pillar of Defense
Why The Group Thought It Could Get Away With Striking Israel
Where Hamas Goes From Here
Time To Regroup or Rupture
Hamas' Not-So-Secret Weapon
Meet Salah al-Arouri, the Man Behind the Group's Kidnapping Strategy
Why Cairo Can't Broker a Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas
The Near Enemy
Why the Real Threat to Israel Isn't in Gaza
Bibi's First War
Why Benjamin Netanyahu Has Never Liked Military Conflict
How Hamas Won
Israel's Tactical Success and Strategic Failure
Gaza's Bottle Rockets
Why Hamas' Arsenal Wasn't Worth a War
Notes From the Underground
The Long History of Tunnel Warfare
Why Withdrawing From the West Bank Would Make Israel Safer
Why Israel Should Stop Pushing Hamas to Give Up Its Weapons
Is Trusteeship for Palestine the Answer?
Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel has occasionally been described by the international press in dire terms -- as a “non-stop onslaught,” an “unbearable” and “incessant” assault that is “paralyzing the country” and making life “intolerable” for ordinary Israelis. One CNN report even claimed that Israeli soldiers were collapsing from the psychological trauma of the explosions. It has made for a nasty portrait of Hamas and its military strategy, one that could even be read as a tacit endorsement of Israel’s stated goal of disarming the group with military force.
But a closer examination of Hamas’ military capabilities and goals reveals a very different picture. Most of Hamas’ arsenal is comprised of homemade rockets that are decidedly incapable of inflicting mass civilian casualties, flattening apartment blocks, or causing conflagrations that consume entire cities. “Hamas’ rockets can kill people and they have,” a counter-intelligence veteran of the U.S. CIA who spent his career monitoring Israeli and Palestinian military capabilities told me recently, “but compared to what the Israelis are using, the Palestinians are firing bottle rockets.” Far from justifying the ground campaign in Gaza, the nature of Hamas’ arsenal makes Israel’s ongoing military operation entirely counterproductive.
At the outset of the current conflict, according to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas had 6,000 rockets deployed in Gaza, with an additional 5,000 deployed by its affiliate organizations, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Resistance Committees. Their combined arsenal is comprised of four rocket types: the short-range Qassam rocket with a range of 17.7 km (11 miles); the Grad rocket with a range of 48 km (30 miles); the M-75 with a range of 75 km (46 miles); and the M-302 with a range of 160 km (99 miles). The M-302 is by far the most sophisticated rocket in the arsenal, capable of reaching Haifa, which is 90 miles from Gaza City.
But even though Gaza has thousands of rockets, a large number of which can reach central Israel, Hamas’ arsenal poses only a negligible threat to Israel’s population. The vast majority of Hamas’
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