An upgraded ballistic rocket was reportedly launched Tuesday from the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean sea, presumably to test the weapon’s capabilities and range.
The test caused loud explosion sounds that were audible in Israeli towns and cities adjacent to the Gaza border, Channel 2 reported. The rocket was an improved version of the M-75 missile with a slightly longer range and a larger warhead, the report said.
Other Israeli news outlets, citing the army, attributed the explosion sounds to ultrasonic booms caused by Israeli jets that were participating in a drill.
Over the past few years, the Hamas terror organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, has produced its own 200 mm. caliber M-75 missiles, which have a range of about 80 kilometers (50 miles), putting much of Israel’s heartland, including Tel Aviv, in their range.
A number of M-75 rockets, which are manufactured based on Iranian technology, were fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during Israel’s brief war with Hamas in November 2012. Most of the missiles were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors, although some caused damage to residential buildings.
The M-75 is named after Ibrahim Makadmeh, a Hamas terrorist who was assassinated by Israel in March 2003.
Due to its ostensible successes during Operation Pillar of Defense — Hamas celebrated the fact that Israelis were forced to take cover from the rockets even when they didn’t cause any casualties — the M-75 attained something of a celebrity status in Gaza.
Last December, the Islamist daily Al-Resalah reported that the owner of a local cosmetics company had decided to name a new line of perfume after the legendary rocket.
“The fragrance is pleasant and attractive, like the missiles of the Palestinian resistance, and especially the M-75,” Shadi Adwan said, adding that his company wished “to remind citizens of the victory wherever they may be, even in China.”
In January, Palestinians on the Temple Mount fashioned a replica of the M-75 out of snow.
Elhanan Miller and Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report.