Iran upgrades Palestinian Jihad Islami’s Gaza arsenal
with coastal missiles, improved Qassams
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 7, 2012, 1
Iran is working at speed to give the Jihad Islami, its radical Palestinian arm in the Gaza Strip, a strong military edge over the ruling Hamas which it no longer trusts, DEBKAfile’s exclusive military sources report. Tehran is motivated by two objectives:
1. Because of its growing distance from the Assad regime in Syria, Hamas can no longer be relied on to support the Islamic Republic’s cause and strike Israel or US Middle East targets if the latter go to war on Iran’s nuclear program.
One of Tehran’s top strategic priorities now is therefore to set Jihad Islami up as the spearhead of a potential attack on Israel instead of Hamas from the Gaza Strip and its Mediterranean coast.
2. Partly also as a rejoinder to the Qatari and Saudi arms shipments channeled to the Syrian rebels through Turkey, Iran is matching the level and quality of those arms deliveries by its own consignments through Sinai or by sea to the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian extremist group.
Those consignments have two parts:
The first entails the establishment of a line of radar-guided, shore-to-sea missiles along the Gaza coast – to prevent Israel’s missile ships getting near enough to the enclave from the Mediterranean to shell shore targets – and as a barrier against Israeli armored or special forces landings.
Iranian missile experts are on the spot setting up the missile deployments and organizing the logistics for their transfer from storage to preset launching sites. Scores of Jihad Islami fighters are undergoing special course in their use at Revolutionary Guards centers while Iranian instructors in Gaza are showing them how to use their radar systems.
For the second, Iranian and Hizballah missile engineers are working on magnifying the explosive punch, range and targeting precision of the estimated 15,000 Qassam missiles in the Jihad Islami’s armory.
To this end, they re building for the terrorists a military industry with production lines which for the first time will give them the capacity for the high-speed serial production of dozens of Qassam’s instead of producing them one at a time in small foundries.
Once those production lines are working, Jihad Islami can double the intensity of its missile attacks on Israeli locations from 100 to 200 per day. Their range has also been improved so as to bring Tel Aviv and its southern environs within reach of upgraded Qassams launched from the Gaza Strip.
According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, Iran and Jihad Islami welcome Israel’s sudden decision to hold an early election on September 4 because they believe its leaders will be too busy campaigning to interfere with the Iranian-Palestinian military buildup going forward apace in the Gaza Strip. By the time the next Israeli government is in place, most likely headed by the incumbent Binyamin Netanyahu, their new deployment and armaments will already be in place.