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Iran-Backed Palestinian Terror Group Has Fired 68 Rockets Into Israel Since Cease-Fire Began

The Israel Project

Issue LXXXIV- December 29, 2006



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Statement of Policy



Continual Qassam rocket attacks against Israel by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza are threatening to undermine a month-long cease-fire during which Israel has refrained from undertaking military actions to stop the unprovoked strikes.

The cease-fire agreement went into effect on Nov. 26. [1] Since then, Gaza-based terrorists have fired more than 68 Qassams, 53 of which fell inside Israel. [2]

"It is a real tragedy that Israel has once again been forced to defend itself from rocket attacks," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project. "This is especially true since Israel gave up all of Gaza more than a year ago in the hopes of a better future for both sides. Israel has complained time and again about these attacks and is working with the international community, but the attacks continue. All Israel wants is for its citizens to be able to live in peace."

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), one of several Iran-backed terrorist groups operating inside Gaza, has claimed responsibility for much of the Qassam fire that has breached the cease-fire in the last month. One of the Qassams landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Dec. 26, seriously wounding two teenage boys.

In response to that incident, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert released a statement on Dec. 27 that read: "A directive has been given to take pin-point action against the rocket-launching squads. In parallel, Israel will continue to preserve the cease-fire and will act vis--vis the Palestinian Authority in order for them to take immediate action to stop the shooting of Qassams." [3]

Abu Ahmed, a PIJ spokesman, confirmed that the group was deliberately launching Qassams in an attempt to jeopardize the fragile cease-fire by provoking a response by the Israel Defense Forces.[4]  

The United States, the European Union, and the Australian and Canadian governments officially designate PIJ as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

Iran provides an estimated $2 million in state-sponsored funding to PIJ annually. [5]  The Al-Quds Brigades, the violent military wing of PIJ has claimed responsibility for dozens of Qassam rockets launched into Israel in recent months. In addition to rocket attacks, PIJ planned and carried out the April 17, 2006  suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that left 12 civilians dead and more than 60 wounded near the city's old downtown bus station.

In March 2006, Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a Grad-type Katyusha rocket - the so-called Quds 4 - into Israel for the first time. [6]  The Quds 4 rocket has a range of up to 14 km (8.5 mi.). Since then, a total of four Grad-type rockets have been fired into Israeli territory.

According to Israeli intelligence sources, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia - a terrorist organization heavily financed by Iran - is now providing direct funding to a variety of Palestinian factional groups to launch Qassam rockets into Israel.

Hezbollah initiated a war against Israel  this past summer after Hezbollah terrorists crossed the Lebanese-Israeli internationally recognized border while firing rockets and mortar shells into Israeli towns and ambushed Israeli jeeps patrolling the northern border. Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers and killed three others in the attack, touching off a 34-day war during which tens of thousands of Israelis were forced to flee northern Israel or live underground. Hezbollah has provided no information about the fate of the abducted soldiers. 


Militants affiliated with Hezbollah and other factional Palestinian terrorist groups receive training, financial support and weapons from Syria and Iran and even receive thousands of dollars in reward money for each attack, according to an Israeli Security Agency source. [8]

"Sometimes they are paid before the attack and sometimes they submit a bill to Lebanon afterward and the money gets transferred a short while later," according to the source. [9]

Security officials also said Hezbollah is directly involved in smuggling thousands of dollars into Gaza to pay for the attacks. Militants are paid based on the number of Israelis they kill or injure by Qassams they fire into Israel. [10]

Financial support for these terrorist attacks against Israel is chiefly awarded by Iran.

Regarding PIJ's Qassam attacks against Israeli civilians, Abu Ahmed said, "Our firing is not coincidental. The rocket-firing cells are aiming at targets and strategic facilities on which, or next to which, the rockets land." [11]

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is also working to create a rocket with a longer range to use against Israel. "We are in the advanced stages of working on a rocket with a range of 22 km (13.5 mi.)," Abu Ahmed said.[12]

As a result, the IDF is considering expanding the current security zone around the Gaza Strip. In order to protect Israeli citizens in the communities surrounding Gaza, Israel's Home Front Command wants to widen the zone an additional 3 km (1.9 mi.), which would total 20 km (12.4 mi.). Almost 50,000 Israelis live within a 7 km (4.3 mi.) perimeter of Gaza, but the newly expanded zone, once completed, will help protect the 162,000 civilians who would be in range of the extended Qassam fire. [13]

Hamas' Izzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades as well as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Fatah, also have been responsible for firing Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel throughout the month-long cease-fire.

An estimated 1,300 Qassam rockets have been launched by Palestinian militants from Gaza since Israel evacuated all of its citizens, including soldiers and even its dead, from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Israel took that dramatic step for the purpose of helping to launch an independent Palestinian state. Instead, almost immediately afterwards, Palestinian terrorist groups began using Gaza to stockpile weapons, fire rockets into Israel and even set up terrorist training camps. [14]  The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (P.A.) has done nothing to stop the attacks, which include intentionally targeting innocent Israeli civilians. 


Under the control of the Hamas government, Palestinians are now capable of launching Qassam rockets into the coastal town of Ashkelon, which lies 13 km (8 mi.) from northern Gaza. Qassams usually can travel 3 -10 km (1.8 - 6 mi.), but Hamas's green light for continued terror against Israel has resulted in the creation of a new double-engine Qassam rocket by the military wing of Hamas and the build-up of Grad-style Katyusha rockets that can reach targets within 18-30 km (11-19 mi.). [15]

Throughout the recent wave of Qassam rocket attacks, Israel has demonstrated its commitment to the Nov. 26 cease-fire agreement and has refrained from reacting militarily.

On Dec. 23, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert hosted his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas at his home in west Jerusalem. During the meeting, the two leaders agreed to cooperate on a number of issues, primarily taking concrete steps to resume the peace process. [16]

Following the discussion at Olmert's residence, Olmert announced that he would unfreeze $100 million dollars in Palestinian tax revenues and find a way to deliver the aid so that it would directly reach the Palestinian people rather than falling into the hands of the Hamas-led government. [17]

Said Miri Eisin, an Israeli government spokeswoman, "The money itself will not be transferred to the Hamas-led government and right now we are looking for the right way to be able to transfer the money ... for different humanitarian issues." [18]

Also, the Israeli prime minister pledged to ease travel and security restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza[19]

In response to the number of Qassams that have been launched during the cease-fire, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) has been directed to file a motion with the president of the U.N. Security Council regarding Palestinian violations of the agreement. [20]

Those violations include eight Qassams launched on Dec. 26 from Gaza into Israel and a mortar that landed near an IDF base. One of the Qassams landed in Ashkelon, near a strategic installation. [21] During Dec. 18-26, militants in Gaza fired 31 Qassams; of those, 17 landed in Israel.

A total of 10 civilians have died as a result of Qassam and mortar fire launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, beyond the 1967 border. Before Israel carried out its disengagement from Gaza, an additional seven people were killed by rockets and mortars in Jewish communities in Gaza, including a foreign worker and two Palestinians. [22]

Background Information on Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

  • Associated with: Hamas, Palestinian Resistance Committees
  • Headquarters: Gaza, West Bank, Syria, Lebanon
  • Doctrine: Destruction of Israel, replacing it with a Palestinian Islamic State
  • Background: Sunni Islamic Fundamentalists, Palestinian separatists
  • Approach: Bombings, including suicide and mortar attacks

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also referred to as Islamic Jihad (IJ), was founded in 1980 by Fathi Shiqaqi subsequent to his departure from the Muslim Brotherhood. The specificity of this group's title - Palestinian - is due to its geographic location and its members' national affiliation.

Islamic Jihad is the principal establishment of which PIJ and a number of other trans-national IJ terror cells worldwide are supplemented. All IJ factions draw their tenets from political and militant Islam. Since its inception, PIJ has been a radical Islamic movement.

Currently, PIJ is led by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. PIJ is committed to the violent destruction of Israel, which it views as one battle in a larger worldwide holy war, pitting Islam against all non-believers. PIJ violently opposes the peace process and has conducted numerous suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The most recent PIJ suicide bombing killed 11 Israelis in the heart of Tel Aviv on April 17, 2006. More than 200 civilians have been murdered in PIJ attacks, with more than 1,000 civilians wounded. [23]

PIJ's activities have been hampered in recent years by Israeli security services and an international crackdown on its funding sources. However, its refusal to abide by cease-fires and continued rejection of Israel's right to exist make PIJ a continued threat to a lasting peace in the region.

Comprehensive list of all PIJ terrorist attacks

Contacts Available for Comment in Sderot and Western Negev Region

Municipality and Council Representatives

Yossi Cohen, Sderot Spokesman
Cell: 972-57-738-3770

Shalom Halevi, Assistant to Sderot Spokesman
Tel.: 972-8-662-0206; cell: 972-57-899-4586

Alon Schuster, Head of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Cell: 972-54-675-5111

Eliahu Segel, General Manager of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Tel.: 972-8-689-7223; cell: 972-54-675-5112

Michal Shaban, Assistant to Head of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Cell: 972-54-675-5115

Community Leaders and Organizations

Gvanim, Community organization dedicated to several different projects in Sderot
Cell: 972-54-668-9902 (ask for Hen)

Aron Poulet, Head of social work services in Sderot
Tel.: 972-8-662-0273

Tami Sagie, Head Psychologist
Tel.: 972-8-662-4000

Miriam Sasi, Head of Sderot's Education Department
Tel.: 972-8-662-4000

'Sela' - A community project for Russian-speaking residents of Sderot
Natasha, Cell: 972-50-795-5051

Raneta Shulomov, Russian speaking-resident and head of a social project in Sderot
Cell: 972-54-668-9014

Dalia Yosef, Heads a project that deals with community protection services
Cell: 972-54-471-3268

School Principals and Teachers

Eli Edri, Principal of school in Sderot
Cell: 972-52-607-0751

Sari Kalimi, Resident of Sderot, mother of three, special education teacher and therapist
Tel.: 972-8-661-2821; cell: 972-52-476-972

Adina Mastbaum, Resident of Sderot, mother of three, and special education teacher
Tel.: 972-08-932-2221; cell: 972-50-753-3363

Amit Orbach, Principal of school in Sderot
Cell: 972-54-443-6633

Atara Orenbuch, Mother of six and teacher in Sderot
Tel.: 927-8-661-2869; cell: 972-54-443-5588

Matin Ovadia, Principal of a school in Sderot
Cell: 972-52-607-0712

Shusha Sido, Head of a Sderot kindergarten
Cell: 972-50-683-1310

Mutti and Rivka Spanglet, Parents of three and teachers at a local school in Sderot
Tel.: 972-8-684-9964; cell: 972-50-865-2991

Russian-Speaking Residents of Sderot

Sderot City Council, Elena Biryukova
Tel.: 972-8-662-0208; cell: 972-54-694-4149

Alexander Rieman, Historian and journalist
Cell: 972-50-562-5571; email: Rieman1@012.net.il

Ashkelon Municipality

Anat Weinstein-Berkowitz, Spokeswoman of the Ashkelon Municipality
Tel.:972-8-679-2385; cell: 972-50-899-8385

Gregory Mezin, Assistant to Ashkelon Spokeswoman (Russian-speaker)
Cell: 972-50-899-8698


[1]  "Israel, Palestinian Authority declare cease-fire in Gaza Strip," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, Nov. 26,2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/Israel+and+Palestinian+Authority+declare+cease-fire+in+Gaza+Strip+26-Nov-2006.htm
[2]  Interview with spokesman from Israel Defense Forces office, Dec. 28, 2006
[3]  "Security Consultation," Prime Minister's Office, Dec. 27, 2006, http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/Spokesman/2006/12/rosec271206.htm
[4]  Benn, Aluf, Harel, Amos, Grinberg, Mijal, and Stern, Yoav, "Islamic Jihad: We are firing rockets in bid to sabotage Gaza truce," Haaretz , Dec. 27, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/806084.html
[5]  "Group Profile: Palestinian Islamic Jihad," MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Database, Nov. 7, 2006, http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=82
[6]  "Katyusha rocket 'fired from Gaza,'" BBC News , March 28, 2006,
[7]  Butcher, Tim, "Captured troops may be dead, admit Israelis," Telegraph.co.uk , Aug. 12, 2006,
[8]  Keinon, Herb, and Katz, Yaakov, "Exclusive: Hizbullah paying terrorists for Kassam attacks," The Jerusalem Post , Dec. 28, 2006, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881992801&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[9] Ibid.
[10] Keinon, Herb, and Katz, Yaakov, "Exclusive: Hizbullah paying terrorists for Kassam attacks," The Jerusalem Post , Dec. 28, 2006, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881992801&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[11]  Waked, Ali, "Islamic Jihad: We are firing more accurate rockets," Ynet News , Dec. 28, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3345496,00.html
[12]  Waked, Ali, "Islamic Jihad: We are firing more accurate rockets," Ynet News , Dec. 28, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3345496,00.html
[13]  Fishman, Alex, "Danger zone around Gaza to triple," Ynet News , Dec. 28, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3345689,00.html
[14]  Al-Mughrabi, Nidal, "Israel seizes former Jewish settlements: Olmert vows to step up offensive after rockets hit Israeli city," Reuters via the National Post (Canada), July 6, 2006
[15]  "Katyusha rocket 'fired from Gaza,'" BBC News , March 28, 2006,
[16]  "PM Olmert meets with PA President Abbas," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 24, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/PM+Olmert+meets+with+PA+President+Abbas+24-Dec-2006.htm
[17] Heller, Corinne, and Entous, Adam, "Olmert and Abbas hold first formal talks," Reuters , Dec. 23, 2006, http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-12-23T220842Z_01_L09553221_RTRUKOC_0_US-PALESTINIANS
[18]  Heller, Corinne, and Entous, Adam, "Olmert and Abbas hold first formal talks," Reuters , Dec. 23, 2006, http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-12-23T220842Z_01_L09553221_RTRUKOC_0_US-PALESTINIANS
[19]  "PM orders implementation of steps to ease restrictions on Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 26, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/PM+Olmert+orders+implementation+of+steps

[20]  "Israel to protest Kassam fire before Security Council," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 25, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/2006/Israel

[21]  Benn, Aluf, Harel, Amos, Grinberg, Mijal, and Stern, Yoav, "Islamic Jihad: We are firing rockets in bid to sabotage Gaza truce," Haaretz , Dec. 27, 2006,
[22]  "Behind the headlines: The threat to Israeli civilians from the Gaza Strip," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nov. 21, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+and+Islamic+Fundamentalism-/Behind+the+headlines+--+The+Threat+to+Israeli+Civilians+from+the+Gaza+Strip+21-Nov-2006.htm
[23]  "Group Profile: Palestinian Islamic Jihad," MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Database, Nov. 7, 2006, http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=82 

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This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRAs Statement of Policy.

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