History of the Qassam Rocket
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
The Qassam rocket is named after the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The rockets and the brigade are named after Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian Islamist guerrilla who fought in the Arab revolt of the early 1930s against British military and the local Jewish population in mandatory Palestine. Qassam and two of his followers were killed in November 1935.
The use of Qassam rockets against Israeli civilians is a relatively recent development. Hamas has gained notoriety over three decades, since its inception in late 1987, by carrying out headline-grabbing suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. After a fresh round of Palestinian violence in autumn 2000, tighter Israeli security measures made it more difficult for Hamas to launch its suicide operations. Increasingly, Qassams have become Hamas' weapon of choice.
Qassams were first fired at Israeli civilian targets in October 2001. They were initially directed at Israeli citizens living in the Gaza strip before the unilateral pullout in 2005. The first Qassam to land in Israeli territory was on February 10, 2002. The number of rockets launched in recent years has increased exponentially.
Total rockets fired from 2001-2010: 4,955
||Beginning of rocket fire on Israeli residents in Gaza
||First year that rockets hit within Israeli territory
||Smuggling from Egypt increases
||Rocket strikes in retaliation for Israeli targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.
||108 until the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, 71 afterwards
||First year of mass production
||421 until the Hamas takeover, 475 afterwards
||1,199 January-June 18th
223 June 19th (beginning of the ceasefire) until December 19th
330 December 20 (beginning of Operation Cast Lead) until December 31
||428 January 1 - 31
||On March 19, a rocket landed in Netiv Ha'asara, killing a Thai man in the first rocket-related death since Operation Cast Lead.
||On April 7, a Kornet missile was fired at a school bus, killing teenager Daniel Viflic ten days later. On Aug 20, Yossi Shushan of Ofakim was killed by a Grad rocket explosion. On Oct. 29, Moshe Ami of Ashkelon was killed when shrapnel from a Grad rocket hit his car.
Note: These figures are approximates, as it is impossible to verify each and every single rocket fired.
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The remains of Palestinian rockets that landed in Sderot. Photographer: Moshe Shai