The Hamas rocket arsenal in the Gaza Strip has been significantly depleted and may have been reduced to a mere few hundred rockets, security officials estimate, according to an Israel Hayom report.
The officials estimate that at the start of the fighting Hamas had about 20,000 rockets and mortar shells of varying ranges, most of them short-range. In the first four hours of the Oct. 7 attack, Hamas fired about 3,000 rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory. In total, about 9,000 rockets have reached Israeli territory.
For comparison, 4,400 rockets were fired at Israel during the 34 days of the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah in 2006. And during the 51 days of “Operation Protective Edge” against Hamas in 2014 about 4,500 rockets were fired toward Israel. According to the estimates, a large proportion of the rockets fired in the current war landed within the Strip, so the actual number of rockets fired is higher than 9,000.
The rocket hunting operations conducted by the Israel Defense Forces, which managed to destroy many rockets from the air and the ground, have also significantly reduced the rocket arsenal in the Strip. Rocket hunting continued in recent days throughout Gaza, even in the northern Strip from which most forces have withdrawn, and the IDF continues to eliminate rockets and launchers.
The IDF reported that this week troops located an area with rocket launchers that had been directed at Israeli border communities. The army also found a rocket launcher ready to fire in an olive grove in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central area of the Strip.
In addition to attempts to locate remaining rockets and launchers in the Strip, the IDF also acts to strike launchers after they have fired their missiles into Israeli territory. Thus, for example, on the night following the dozens of rocket attacks on Netivot in southwestern Israel earlier this month, the IDF destroyed the launchers from which the rockets were fired.
Due to the dramatic decrease in the number of rockets held by terror organizations in the Strip, rocket fire into Israel has greatly diminished, as terror groups economize their use of the rockets to continue with their attacks on Israel for a longer period. In recent days, Hamas has been firing only sporadically, mostly towards the Israel border communities, while central Israel has been all but spared of any barrages for the better part of the past month.
To reduce Hamas’s ability to continue manufacturing rockets during the fighting, and diminish its ability to fire on the “day after,” the IDF has focused part of the fighting in the Strip at rocket production sites. Thus, for example, dozens of machines and lathes for manufacturing rockets and weaponry were located and destroyed in recent days in the Zeitoun neighborhood in northern Gaza, as well as in additional locations in the Strip. The destruction of Hamas rocket manufacturing facilities, many of them located dozens of feet underground in various parts of the Strip has previously been reported.
Moreover, army officials stress that to further reduce future rocket capabilities, a solution must be found regarding the Rafah crossing and the Philadelphi Route that borders Egypt to prevent Hamas from further arming itself with rockets and other weaponry. At this stage of fighting, and in light of Egypt’s strong opposition to action in southern Gaza, it is still unclear how this can be carried out.
In any case, the IDF has initiated attempts to return residents of Israeli border communities, located from four the seven kilometers from the Strip. However, as long as fighting continues, the army cannot guarantee residents that they will not suffer occasional rocket or mortar fire.
Originally published by Israel Hayom.