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Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
A rocket fired from a civilian area in Gaza towards civilian areas in Southern Israel.jpg
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, December 2008
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Lebanese rocket attacks on Israel

The Qassam rocket (Arabic: صاروخ القسامṢārūkh al-Qassām; also Kassam) is a simple steel artillery rocket filled with explosives, developed and deployed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. Three models have been produced and used between 2001 and 2009.

The Qassam gained notoriety as the most well-known type of rocket deployed by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilian targets during the Second Intifada of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[1][2] From 2000 through present, Qassam rockets have claimed the lives of 22 Israelis and one Thai national.[3][4]


History of the Qassam



Qassam rockets are named after the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed branch of Hamas, itself named for Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a militant Syrian preacher whose death during a guerrilla raid against British Mandatory authorities in 1935 was one of the catalysts for the 1936 Arab Revolt.[5][6]

Rocket launches

The production of Qassams began in September 2001 following the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The first Qassam to be launched was the Qassam-1, fired on October 2001, with a maximum range of 3 kilometers (2 mi) to 4.5 kilometers (3 mi).[5] February 10, 2002 was the first time Palestinians launched rockets into Israel, rather than at Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. One of the rockets landed in Kibbutz Saad.[7] A Qassam first hit an Israeli city on March 5, 2002 when two rockets struck the southern city of Sderot. Some rockets have hit as far as the edge of Ashkelon. The total number of Qassam rockets launched exceeded 1,000 by June 9, 2006. During the year 2006 alone, more than 1,000 rockets were launched. In 2008, 1750 rockets were launched. By the end of December 2008, a total of 15 people had been killed by Qassam rockets since attacks began in 2001 (see: List of Qassam rocket attacks).[8]

Israeli reaction

A Qassam rocket is displayed in Sderot town hall against a background of pictures of residents killed in rocket attacks

The introduction of the Qassam rocket took Israeli politicians and military experts by surprise,[9] and reactions have been mixed.[10] In 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Defense viewed the Qassams as "more a psychological than physical threat."[11] The Israel Defence Force has reacted to the deployment of the Qassam rockets by deploying the Red Color early warning system in Sderot, Ashkelon and other at-risk targets. The system consists of an advanced radar that detects rockets as they are being launched, and loudspeakers warn civilians to take cover between 15 and 45 seconds before impact[12] in an attempt to minimize the threat posed by the rockets. A system called Iron Dome, designed to intercept the rockets before they can hit their targets, is currently under development and is expected to be operational by 2010.

Rocket design and specifications

Remnants of several types of rockets

The aim of the Qassam rocket design appears to be ease and speed of manufacture, using common tools and components. To this end, the rockets are propelled by a solid mixture of sugar and potassium nitrate, a widely available fertilizer. The warhead is filled with smuggled or scavenged TNT and urea nitrate, another common fertilizer.[13]

The rocket consists of a steel cylinder, containing a rectangular block of the propellant. A steel plate which forms and supports the nozzles is spot-welded to the base of the cylinder. The warhead consists of a simple metal shell surrounding the explosives, and is triggered by a fuze constructed using a simple firearm cartridge, a spring and a nail.[13]

While early designs used a single nozzle which screwed into the base, recent rockets use a seven-nozzle design, with the nozzles drilled directly into the rocket baseplate. This change both increases the tolerance of the rocket to small nozzle design defects, and eases manufacture by allowing the use of a drill rather than a lathe during manufacture due to the smaller nozzle size. Unlike many other rockets, the nozzles are not canted, which means the rocket does not spin about its axis during flight. While this results in a significant decrease in accuracy, it greatly simplifies rocket manufacture and the launch systems required.[13]

Qassam 1 Qassam 2 Qassam 3
Length 79 cm (2 ft 7 in) 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) over 200 cm (6 ft 7 in)
Diameter 6 cm (2.4 in) 15 cm (5.9 in) 17 cm (6.7 in)
Weight 5.5 kg (12 lb) 32 kg (71 lb) 90 kg (198 lb)
Explosives Payload 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) 5–7 kg (11–15 lb) 10 kg (22 lb)
Maximum Range 3 km (1.9 mi) 8–10 km (5.0–6.2 mi) 10 km (6.2 mi)

Similar rockets

Other Palestinian militant groups have also developed home-made rockets, but they are much less common than the Qassam as developed by Hamas. The media generally refer to all Palestinian high-trajectory rockets as "Qassam rockets" or "Qassam missiles", while they call most rockets fired from Lebanon "Katyushas", as a Katyusha is not a specific model but rather a generic class of rocket.


  1. ^ Gaza's rocket threat to Israel, BBC, Jan. 21, 2008
  2. ^ Hamas Must End Attacks Against Civilians, Cease Use of Qassam Rockets, JUNE 8, 2005
  3. ^
  4. ^,7340,L-3864628,00.html
  5. ^ a b "HAMAS rockets". Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  6. ^ "History of the Qassam Rocket". Jewish Policy Center. Retrieved 12 August 2009. 
  7. ^ "Palestinians launch rockets at Israel". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 10 February 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  8. ^ "Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  Incidents: June 28, 2004 (2 killed), September 29, 2004 (2 killed), January 15, 2005 (1 killed), June 7, 2005 (3 killed), July 14, 2005 (1 killed), November 15, 2006 (1 killed), November 21, 2006 (1 killed), May 21, 2007 (1 killed), May 27, 2007 (1 killed), February 27, 2008 (1 killed), May 12, 2008 (1 killed)
  9. ^ IMRA - Saturday, July 15, 2006 Historical Survey of Israeli Leaders: Will Rockets Fall?
  10. ^ "Peres: Enough with Qassam hysteria". Ynetnews. 20 June 2006.,7340,L-3264980,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Defense Ministry: Trade with China resumed". Ynetnews. 1 March 2006.,7340,L-3222783,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  12. ^ "Rocket attacks plague Israeli towns". BBC. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  13. ^ a b c Lorber, Dr Azriel. "The Growing Threat of the Kassam Unguided Rockets". Retrieved 2009-01-05. 

External links


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