Qassam Missile

   An unsophisticated steel rocket filled with explosives with only a short range and lacking a guidance system. It was developed by Hamas and became the missile of choice fired by Hamas and other Palestinian groups at Israeli soldiers and civilians in the Gaza Strip prior to Israel's 2005 disengagement and at Sderot and other Israeli towns, cities, and kibbutzim near the Gaza-Israel border after the disengagement.
   The missile is named after the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed, operational branch of Hamas. The first recorded use of the Qas-sam missile was in October 2001. The first Qassam to land in Israeli territory was launched on 10 February 2002. The first time an Israeli city was hit was on 5 March 2002, when two missiles hit Sderot. In August 2003, a Qassam landed near the city of Ashkelon, the farthest Israeli city from the Gaza Strip to have been struck by Qassam missiles. Another missile landed near Ashkelon on 15 December 2005. Other Israeli communities have also been targeted. The first Israeli death resulting from a Qassam missile strike occurred on 28 June 2004.
   From Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 until early 2006, most of the Qassam missile launchings against Israeli targets were reportedly carried out by Hamas from the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Following Hamas's victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on 25 January 2006, other groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades ostensibly took over many of the firings.
   Israel has tried to stop the development and manufacture of the Qassam missiles at their source and to take out the missile launchers. Two significant Israel Defense Forces ground incursions in the Gaza Strip—Operation Rainbow (May 2004) and Operation Days of Penitence (October 2004)—were in part launched to eliminate missile launchers. In addition, while the primary and declared goal of Operation Summer Rain (2006) was to achieve the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas, a secondary objective was to disrupt the steady storm of Qas-sam missiles that had been raining down unremittingly on Sderot and other Israeli population centers in the Negev since the Gaza disengagement.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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