Qassam rocket

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Flickr - Israel Defense Forces - Eight Qassam Launchers in Gaza.jpg
Eight Qassam launchers, seven equipped with operating systems and one armed and ready to launch, uncovered during an IDF operation in northern Gaza.
Service history
Used by Palestinian militants
Wars Gaza–Israel conflict
Production history
Designer Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Designed 2001
Manufacturer Palestinian militants
Produced 2001-current
Weight Qassam 1: 35kg; Qassam 2: 40kg; Qassam 3: 50kg; Qassam 4: 40-50 kg[1]
Length Qassam 1: 180cm; Qassam 2: 180cm; Qassam 3: 220cm; Qassam 4: 244 cm[1]
Diameter Qassam 1: 11.5cm; Qassam 2: 11.5cm; Qassam 3: 11.5cm;Qassam 4: 11.5cm[1]
Warhead Explosive material with metal bearings;[2] standard explosive material[3]
Warhead weight Qassam 1: 5kg; Qassam 2: 10kg; Qassam 3: 20kg; Qassam 4:~10kg

Propellant Solid fuel (sugar and potassium nitrate mix)
Qassam 1: 5km; Qassam 2: 12km; Qassam 3: 16km

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

More generally, all types of Palestinian rockets fired into southern Israel, for example the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Al Quds rockets, are called Qassams by the Israeli media, and often by foreign media.[4] The Qassam gained notoriety as the best-known type of rocket deployed by Palestinian militants mainly against Israeli civilians, but also some military targets during the Second Intifada of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[5][6] Since 2000, Palestinian rockets, which include the Qassam, alongside others such as the Grad rocket, have been used to kill 22 Israeli citizens and one Thai national (as of January 9, 2009).[7][8] These rockets cannot be fired precisely to target specific military objectives in or near civilian areas. Human Rights Watch issued an analysis, stating, that "such weapons are therefore indiscriminate when used against targets in population centers. The absence of Israeli military forces in the areas where rockets hit, as well as statements by leaders of Palestinian armed groups that population centers were being targeted, indicate that the armed groups deliberately attacked Israeli civilians and civilian objects."[9] The international community considers indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian structures that do not discriminate between civilians and military targets as illegal under international law.[9][10]

History of the Qassam[edit]


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 Syrian Muslim preacher whose death during a guerrilla raid against British Mandatory authorities in 1935 was one of the catalysts for the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine.[11][12]

Rocket launches[edit]

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 (1.9 mi) to 4.5 kilometers (2.8 mi).[11] 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.[13] 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. By the end of December 2008, a total of 15 people had been killed by Palestinian rockets since attacks began in 2001.[14]

Rocket design and cost[edit]

Rockets being exhibited

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. This is close to Ammonite.[15]

The rocket consists of a steel cylinder, containing a rectangular block of the propellant. A steel plate which forms and supports the nozzles is then spot-welded to the base of the cylinder. The warhead consists of a simple metal shell surrounding the explosives, and is triggered by a fuse constructed using a simple firearm cartridge, a spring and a nail.[15]

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. However due to the cone shape of each of the 7 nozzles, each nozzle's inside must be made with a lathe, or else the interior of the nozzle would be cylindrical rather than conical (see rocket engine nozzle). Unlike many other rockets, the nozzles are not canted, which means the rocket does not spin about its longitudinal axis during flight. While this results in a significant decrease in accuracy, it greatly simplifies rocket manufacture and the launch systems required.[15]


The cost of the materials used for manufacturing each Qassam is up to $800 or €500 (in 2008-9) per rocket.[16][17]


Israeli reaction[edit]

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,[18] and reactions have been mixed.[19] In 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Defense viewed the Qassams as "more a psychological than physical threat."[20] A 2008 study found that over half of Sderot's residents have been hurt, either physically or psychologically by Qassams.[21] The Israel Defense Forces 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[22] 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 in use since March 2011. A system based on lasers (Nautilios) was researched in a joint Israeli-American project in the early 2000s, but was discontinued.

Palestinian reaction[edit]

On July 23, 2004 one family attempted to physically prevent the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades from setting up a Qassam rocket launcher outside their house. Members of the brigade shot one member of the family, a young Arab boy, and wounded 5 others.[23][24][25] A BBC story says that other depictions suggest he was shot by Israeli troops, but witnesses testified "the young man was killed by militants whom he saw burying an anti-tank mine near his house on a track used by Israeli patrols".[26] In October 2010 five children and three women were injured after a Qassam rocket training site exploded near a crowded residential area of Tel As-Sultan in Rafah.

Similar Palestinian rockets[edit]

Other Palestinian militant groups have also developed home-made rockets. 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.

The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center estimated that in 2007[27] the proportions of rockets fired were:

34% – Palestinian Islamic Jihad
22% – Hamas
 8% – Fatah
 6% – Popular Resistance Committees
30% – unknown

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports that the number of Palestinian rockets fired per year[27] were:

2001:   4
2002:  35
2003: 155
2004: 281
2005: 179
2006: 946
2007: 896
2008: 2,048[28]


  1. ^ a b c What are Qassam Rockets?
  2. ^ נענע10 - תיעוד: רגעי האימה של ילדי שדרות בדרך לבית-ספר - חדשות
  3. ^ שדרונט- הקסאם
  4. ^ "Rocket threat from the Gaza Strip, 2000–2007". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Cente (Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center): 33. December 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  5. ^ Gaza's rocket threat to Israel, BBC, 21 January 2008
  6. ^ Hamas Must End Attacks Against Civilians, Cease Use of Qassam Rockets, Human Rights Watch, 8 June 2005
  7. ^ al-Mughrabi, Nidal (January 9, 2009). "UN call for immediate Gaza truce, attacks go on". Reuters. 
  8. ^ "Man killed in Qassam attack". 1995-06-20. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  9. ^ a b "Gaza: Palestinian Rockets Unlawfully Targeted Israeli Civilians". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Protection of the civilian population". Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977. International Committee of the Red Cross. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "HAMAS rockets". Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "History of the Qassam Rocket". Jewish Policy Center. Retrieved 12 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Palestinians launch rockets at Israel". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 10 February 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "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)
  15. ^ a b c Lorber, Dr Azriel. "The Growing Threat of the Kassam Unguided Rockets". Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  16. ^ "What are Qassam Rockets?". Jewish Policy Center. Retrieved 9 August 2009.  "The raw materials for one rocket can cost up to $800."
  17. ^ Ulrike Putz (29 January 2008). "A Visit to a Gaza Rocket Factory (Islamic Jihad)". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  18. ^ IMRA – Saturday, July 15, 2006 Historical Survey of Israeli Leaders: Will Rockets Fall?
  19. ^ "Peres: Enough with Qassam hysteria". Ynetnews. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  20. ^ "Defense Ministry: Trade with China resumed". Ynetnews. 1 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  21. ^ Ilana Curiel (24 November 2008). "Study: Over half of Sderot residents are Qassam casualties". Ynet. 
  22. ^ "Rocket attacks plague Israeli towns". BBC. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  23. ^ "Attempted Kassam Launch Leads to the Death of an Arab Child". IsraelNationalNews. July 23, 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-07. 
  24. ^ Berger, Joseph (July 23, 2004). "Palestinian Family Pays the Price for Asking Militants to Leave". Retrieved February 19, 2006. 
  25. ^ "Gaza youth shot dead; Arafat says PA not in crisis". Archived from the original on July 26, 2004. Retrieved February 19, 2006. 
  26. ^ "Teen dies in Palestinian clash". July 23, 2004. Retrieved February 19, 2006. 
  27. ^ a b "Anti-Israeli Terrorism in 2007 and its Trends in 2008". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Cente (Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center): 11,28. May 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  28. ^ חדשות - צבא וביטחון nrg - ...שנה לעופרת יצוקה: ירידה חדה

External links[edit]