Search and Hit Enter

Iran’s presents newest UAV: The ‘Gaza’ drone

The Iranian government announced its latest UAV today, dubbing it the Gaza-class drone in honor of the recent round of hostilities between Gaza and Israel. The aircraft appears to be patterned after the United States of America’s Predator and Israeli Heron drones.

According to Kan, the drone can run for 35 hours and carry 13 individual pieces of ordnance a distance of up to 2000 kilometers at 35,000 feet. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard added that up to 500 kilograms of electronics can be used to outfit the drone for different missions.

Israeli sources claim to have revealed this drone to the world ahead of Iran’s schedule; Prime Minister Netanyahu displayed debris to foreign emissaries that he claimed had come from such a drone that had been shot down by Israeli forces.

Source: Arutz Sheva

With Iranian Help, Hamas Builds ‘Made in Gaza’ Rockets and Drones to Target Israel

More than 4,000 rockets fired; thousands more left in the arsenal, Israelis estimate

Over the past 10 days, Palestinian militants have unleashed one of the most intense attacks on Israel in decades, firing more than 4,000 short-range rockets and deploying a new, explosive drone intended to evade the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system.

Behind this onslaught, defense officials in Israel and security analysts say, is an extensive arsenal built with technical expertise from Iran and growing local skills in arms manufacturing.

Israeli military leaders say they have destroyed more than two dozen missile-building factories in Gaza with airstrikes in recent days.

But they estimate that the militants still have thousands of rockets left and the technical capacity to begin building more when the fighting stops.

As Israel has become more effective at blocking the smuggling of weapons into the isolated Mediterranean strip, Iran has looked for other ways to help Hamas, supplying designs and know-how the militants can use to make rockets—in some cases cobbled together from common materials such as pipes, castor oil and scavenged spent Israeli munitions.

“The design is Iranian but the production is local,” said Ephraim Sneh, a retired Israeli brigadier general and former deputy defense minister.

Speaking to journalists Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of providing the primary backing for Gaza militants in their attacks against Israel. “If Iranian support is removed, the organizations will collapse within two weeks,” he said.

Iran and Palestinian militant groups haven’t kept their security ties secret, with leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad touting their arms cooperation with Tehran. Last week, Gen. Esmail Qaani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, called Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to offer moral support, Iranian state TV said.

Iran’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations and a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Israel and Hamas appear to be edging toward a cease-fire, as pressure mounts from Washington and other foreign capitals to bring the fighting to an end. A halt in hostilities could come as soon as Friday, according to people involved in the discussions.

So far, Israeli authorities say, the Iron Dome system has managed to shoot down 90% of the Hamas rockets that posed a threat to Israelis. Still, 12 Israelis, including two children, have been killed in the attacks, Israel says.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it has verified that 219 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting began on May 10.

The most advanced short-range rockets fired at Israel—called the Badr-3—appear to be based on an Iranian model, known as the al-Qasim, which has been used by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, Fabian Hinz, a missile expert, wrote in a report in April for the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Badr-3 is less sophisticated than the rockets used by Iran’s own armed forces, according to Mr. Hinz, and the simple design is likely meant to allow groups like Hamas to build them. The rocket appears to have been tested in at least two locations inside Iran, he said.

“The available information indicates an Iranian role in the Badr-3 development that goes far beyond mere technical or financial assistance,” said Mr. Hinz.

In its battles with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Israel has frequently taken aim at weapons arsenals and the sources that replenish them.

  • In 2009, Israel bombed suspected weapons smugglers in Sudan.
  • After a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, Israel targeted tunnels used by Hamas to conceal missiles and militants.
  • With help from Egypt, Israel choked off smuggling routes and underground tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border used to transport weapons such as antitank missiles.
  • And in 2016, Israel was accused of assassinating a Hamas drone expert in Tunisia—something Israeli officials never acknowledged.

Those efforts haven’t stopped Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from introducing new weapons to the battlefield, in part with help from Iran.

In recent years, an adviser to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the force responsible for Iran’s military activities in the region, said the group brought a number of Gaza militants to a special site in Iran where it also trains Afghan mercenaries who fight in Syria, Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, Shiite forces from Iraq and the Houthis from Yemen.

But while Tehran has been able to provide other allies with weapons, advisers and training, it has struggled to replicate that strategy for Gaza militants because of the difficulty bringing heavy weaponry into the blockaded enclave.

Israel’s tight control of Gaza’s borders forced Palestinian militants to rely on locally-sourced alternatives to rebuild their firepower. Gaza militants have used fiberglass to make the drones, industrial metal pipes to make its rockets, and salt and castor oil to make rocket fuel, said the senior Israeli military official.

Hamas militants have boasted of salvaging scrap from Israeli munitions fired during the 2014 war to make new rockets.

Although Hamas can now reliably produce basic rockets, the militants have yet to manufacture weapons with guidance systems that would allow them to effectively hit targets in Israel, according to Michael Horowitz of Le Beck International.

Doing so would require Gaza militants to secure advanced technology, expert advice and training—a daunting challenge in the face of Israeli security constraints.

“Israel can still prevent the development of more sophisticated precision-guided weapons,” he said.

Hamas unveiled the group’s newest weapon—a drone dubbed the Shehab, which means meteor in Arabic—in a video that featured masked militants preparing at least four for launch.

The drone appeared to mirror a design used by Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen. The drones are relatively small—with a wingspan of about 8 feet—and represent the group’s most significant advances in using drones as a kind of kamikaze weapon to crash into targets.

Video of the drones suggests that Hamas used commercial parts, such as Chinese engines and $50 GPS systems, to build the weapons.

So far, the Hamas drones have proven ineffective in evading Israel’s Iron Dome. The Israeli air-defense system, which was recently redesigned to take down the new threat, has destroyed at least three Hamas drones since the beginning of the conflict, according to a senior Israeli military officer.

Red Six Solutions, a U.S. consulting firm that specializes in drone analysis, said that given the advanced nature of the new drones, Hamas likely received outside help in the design and manufacture of the aircraft and the training of the operators.

“Iran’s hands are all over this,” said Scott Crinco, chief executive of Red Six Solutions.

Source: Dion Nissenbaum , Sune Engel Rasmussen and Benoit Faucon – The Wall Street Journal

Notes:

During Operation Guardian of the Walls, some 1,500 Israeli targets were attacked with thousands of missiles.

During the operation, about 4,360 rockets were launched at Israel, of which about 3,400 crossed into Israeli territory, about 680 fell in the Gaza Strip and about 280 fell into the sea.

Source: Arutz Sheva