Reports claiming that Hamas is using multi-barrel rocket launchers, and that they are triggered by cellphone timer, sparked concern in Israel earlier this week, when an upsurge in rocket fire hit the South. But a leading Israeli missile expert said Hamas does not have sophisticated multiple-launch capabilities, and that remote-control launchers are not new.
Claims that some of the rockets that hit the South on Monday were fired from multiple launchers were depicted in Israeli media reports as a potential challenge to the Iron Dome defense system, while the remote-control launch mechanism was described as a potential means for rocket-launch terror teams to avoid Israeli aircraft and surveillance.
An officer with the Southern Command told Channel 10 news that Hamas was “increasingly using” multi-barrel rocket systems in “preparation” for a future conflict with Israel, and that the “accelerated development” of systems capable of launching barrages of fire at Israel was part of an effort to thwart “the successes of Iron Dome.”
He added that in an effort to “copy Hezbollah,” Hamas was also using truck-mounted launchers.
But Uzi Rubin, the former head of Israel’s missile defense organization within the Ministry of Defense, disputed those assertions. “The remote control is no secret and is not new,” said Rubin, who was also the chief engineer of the Arrow anti-missile system.
Nor are the videos of Hamas’s multi-rocket launchers all authentic, he told The Times of Israel Wednesday. “The footage of the launchers on pick-up trucks is actually from Libya.”
In fact, Rubin said, Hamas’s ostensible multi-launch systems are improvised, bound together and dug into pits, and are less accurate than a true multi-barrel rocket system.
Those systems, based on the Russian Katyusha model that the Red Army used against German troops back in July 1941, have remained in use on account of their rapid fire power and mobility.
As Hezbollah showed during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a truck carrying Katyusha rockets can pull out from cover for several seconds, fire a devastating salvo, and return to cover.
Iron Dome, though, Rubin said, can handle a barrage. The system’s capacity, as listed on the website of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Limited, is 20 rockets, but the IDF may have altered Iron Dome to its own operational needs. Rubin said he would not discuss its maximum capacity, but asserted that in June it had handled a multi-rocket barrage on Ashdod without a problem.
In general, continued Rubin, there are no game-changers in the ongoing conflict with the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip. Each side continues to develop the technology it needs. Rockets beget anti-rocket technology. Multi-rocket launchers beget additional (but expensive) Iron Dome batteries. And so on. “There is no ultimate winner. It is a game without end,” he said.
Hamas and other Gaza-based organizations fired 50 mortars and rockets into the South on Monday morning, in what they said was retaliation for an October 7 Israeli air strike against two global Jihad terrorists, Tala’at al Gharbi and Abdallah Makawi, who were seen traveling by motorcycle. Makawi, who was killed in the strike, was involved in the June 18 attack along the security fence that killed an Israeli civilian, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, and was planning an additional operation at the time of his death.