IDF Tracked Rockets From Iran to Hamas

The Israel Defense Forces had been tracking the shipment of Fajr-5 missiles from Iran for over a year before the Israeli strike, reports Akhikam Moshe David.

al-monitor Israeli soldiers search for a rocket after it was fired from Gaza and landed in the West Bank, Nov. 16, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad.

Topics covered

tunnels, pillar of defense, israel, iran, hamas, gaza strip, gaza, fajr rockets

Nov 16, 2012

The smuggling operation was highly complex. The Fajr-5 rockets made in Iran, each six meters long, were transported all the way from their country of origin — dismantled and re-assembled along the way, smuggled via the Gaza Strip tunnels and then hoisted out using cranes — until they were positioned at their launching sites in Gaza.

However, the smugglers were unaware that all that time, for over a year, IDF intelligence, headed by Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, was after them, tracking them down  from the moment they left Iran, targeting and destroying the rockets in a matter of minutes.

While Operation Pillar of Defense started with the targeting and killing of Hamas’ military chief in Gaza Ahmed Jabari, the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip were in for an even bigger shock when they realized that virtually the entire lineup of Fajr-5 rockets was eliminated in the space of a few minutes. The Fajr-5 rockets were the most potent weapons in the arsenal of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The rockets have a potential range of up to 75 km (47 miles), and they thus may threaten Israel's central Dan district. 

The terror organizations had been stockpiling the Fajr-5 rockets in hidden storage sites over a long period of time, intending to use them on the "day of judgment” as a “tie-breaker” weapon.

The smuggling of rockets into the Gaza Strip was foiled, in part, far away from Gaza. According to reports by foreign sources, it was Israel that bombed the weapon-carrying convoys that left Iran on their way to Gaza.

The long rockets were dismantled into several parts by the smugglers before moving them through the tunnels, while storage sites were prepared for them in Gaza. Israeli intelligence operatives detected excavations in various places across the Gaza Strip, mainly near civilian population centers. These column-like holes were dug out, and the rockets transferred through the tunnels and hoisted out by cranes, which then hid the rockets deep down in the holes, ready for launching in their pre-planned directions. To each launching site, a special operator was assigned so that each knew where “his" rocket, the one he was to fire when the day came, was located.

All through that time, IDF intelligence analyzed the data collected and charted the map of rocket deployment, detailing the exact location of each one, its type, where it was pointed and the nature of its immediate surroundings. Once the intelligence elements identified each rocket and its surrounding area, the information was passed on to the Israel air force.

In this way, an accurate bank of targets was prepared in the course of over a year. The innocent-looking launching sites, covered by soil, were supposed to go into action when the time came. However, the IDF was ahead of them: Just a few minutes following the targeting and killing of Jabari, the second wave of air strikes was already underway and within a quarter of an hour, virtually the entire lineup of Fajr-5 rockets was eliminated.

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