According to Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader from Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp, the terrorist group has been manufacturing hand grenades and RPG's for several years. In July 2006, a Hamas video entitled "Hosted by the Rifle," showed assembly lines for anti-tank rockets, bombs and grenades.
In October 2007, a Hamas spokesman detailed the history of indigenous weapons production by the group.
"Al-Qassam Brigades began its work with stones then 'knife.' After that, the old pistols (such as Karlo –small guns). Making weapons began in 1992 when the Mujahedeen to make a gun (9mm), then (Ozi) in 1993 till the year of 1996. Then, making weapons stopped because of usurping the weapon from the Mujahedeen by the 'Oslo' security forces.
In 1998, making weapons resumed by the Qassam commanders such as making mortar shells by the Martyr commander Adnan Al-Ghoul and the General leader Muhammad Deif. After that, the brothers resumed the work since the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada. There was the mortar shells, then the Qassam rocket 1&2, then the Yassin missiles and the 'Shiwath' bombs.
The main stuff of making rockets in Al-Qassam Brigades were the leaders (Yahya Ayyash, Adnan Al-ghoul – Sa'ed Al-Arabid – Mahmoud Ferwana – Yusif Abu Hin –Yaser Taha –Nida Farahat – Teto Masoud) and others, may Allah reward them and give mercy."
In April 2008, media reports indicated that Hamas had stockpiled independently-produced Al-Yassin rockets (based on the PG-2 rocket), hundreds of PG-2 and PG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers, several dozen advanced anti-tank missiles of various types, including Konkurs (AF-5) and Saggers. 2
In January 2002, the IDF intercepted the Palestinian Karine A vessel in the Red Sea. The Karine A was loaded with approximately 50 tons of weapons, including:
- Dragunov sniper rifles
- PK machine guns
- AK-47 (Kalashnikov) assault rifles
- Small arms 7.62 mm rounds
- Cartridges for Kalashnikov, Dragunov and PK machine guns
- Hand grenades
Karine A: Seized Weapons
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Weapons found on board the ship included:
- Hand grenades
- Hungarian Kalashnikov assault rifles
- Magazines for Kalashnikovs
- 7.62 mm rounds for Kalashnikovs 3
Israeli military intelligence has determined that Egypt, Libya, and Yemen serve as the primary suppliers of weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the three countries also supply Palestinian Authority officers with surplus weapons and explosives.
According to an Israeli military source, "The weapons are smuggled by private gangs but with full knowledge of the authorities of these countries...There's no secret here." Intelligence sources note that arms dealers purchase AK-47 assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, rocket and missile components, ammunition and explosives in the three above-mentioned countries. The supplies are then shipped to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and smuggled over the border into the Gaza Strip or Israel.
In December 2005, Western intelligence sources reported that Sudan had become a major source of weapons and ammunition for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah.
According to intelligence assessments, Palestinian terrorists began using the arms smuggling route from Sudan in 2003. The arms originated from military surplus in the western Sudanese province of Darfur and were transported to Egypt, the Sinai, and the Gaza Strip (via Rafah).
"It's [Sudan] become a huge source of weaponry for the Palestinians as well as for other militias in need of equipment...There's an entire infrastructure that's proven highly reliable." It should be noted that the Sudanese weapons, delivered via Egypt, are apparently far cheaper than arms originating elsewhere.
In November 2006, the IDF confirmed that Iranian-financed weapons (originating in Darfur) slated for the PA were being routed through an Egyptian port. According to Yuval Steinitz, the deputy chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: "The weapons to the Palestinians are brought in through Egyptian ports and El Arish and are imported by land from Sudan...Those latter imports have to traverse Egypt on their way to Gaza. There is no way that the Egyptian government is not colluding with the weapons shippers."
Officials note that smuggling has increased from the Sinai since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005.
In June 2006, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from the Sinai since the disengagement (September 2005) is larger than the total amount smuggled since the Six Day War. Palestinian terrorists have smuggled 11 tons of TNT, three million bullets, 19,600 rifles, 1,600 pistols, 65 RPG launchers and 430 RPGs.
In September 2006, Israeli defense officials expressed concern over an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. The officials were particularly worried by the efforts of Palestinian terror groups, led by Hamas, to smuggle anti-tank missiles into Gaza.
The Palestinians have long attempted to improve the quality of their anti-tank missiles. Shortly before Israel withdrew from Gaza, Palestinian terrorists succeeded in improving the quality of their missiles by smuggling modern rocket-propelled grenades to replace improvised weapons.
However, Hamas is currently interested in obtaining Russian-made missiles stockpiled by the Syrian army. It should be noted that a number of the missiles were used by Hezbollah during the second Lebanon war. In addition, the Palestinians have determined that the IDF's armored divisions are vulnerable to anti-tank missiles developed in the Eastern bloc.
In November 2006, Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that 33 tons of military-grade high explosives, 20,000 assault rifles, 3,000 pistols, 6,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 38 long-range Qassam missiles, 12 shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft guided missiles, 95 anti-tank rocket launchers, 410 anti-tank rockets and 20 precision-guided anti-rank missiles have been smuggled into Gaza since the disengagement.
Later that month, Diskin informed the Committee that Palestinian terrorist organizations were studying the Lebanese-Israeli war. Diskin also noted the West Bank had become increasingly violent, especially in Samaria. Apparently, the intelligence community has found it difficult to control the area and collect information. According to Diskin, "Samaria has become the land of Islamic Jihad following the disengagement."
Diskin also voiced concern over the fact that weapons smuggling through the Rafah crossing has increased exponentially since the pullout and added "Rafah will soon be the garden of Eden of weapons smuggling."
Diskin warned that after three to five years of this kind of weapons transfer, Israel will face a situation similar to south Lebanon.
"At this point, anybody who wants to smuggle something through the Philadelphi route can apparently do so...You can smuggle anything through Philadelphi except maybe a tank or plane."
In November 2006, Diskin told the Committee that 33 tons of military-grade high explosives, 20,000 assault rifles, 3,000 pistols, 6,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 38 long-range Qassam missiles, 12 shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft guided missiles, 95 anti-tank rocket launchers, 410 anti-tank rockets and 20 precision-guided anti-rank missiles have been smuggled into Gaza since the disengagement.
2006 smuggling statistics:
- 28 tons of standard-grade explosives (6 tons in 2005)
- 14,000 assault rifles (9,300 in 2005)
- 5 million armament accessories (2 million in 2005)
- 150 RPG rockets
- 65 grenade launchers
- 10 upgraded anti-tank missiles
- 10 anti-aircraft missiles
In August 2007, Deputy Shin Bet Chief "Y" noted that arms smuggling in the Gaza Strip had increased. Since June 2007, 40 tons of weapons were smuggled into the Strip – approximately one half of the total amount of armaments smuggled into the area since Israel's July 2005 disengagement. Since August 2007, the defense establishment has recorded five major incidents of arms smuggling through Egypt, during which 13 tons of explosives and 150 RPG launchers were imported.
In October 2007, Yuval Diskin stated that approximately 1,650 RPG rockets and some 6,000 bombs have been smuggled into Gaza since January 2007. In addition, an estimated 73 tons of explosives have been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels since June. Millions of bullets for light weapons and tons of potassium, used to manufacture bombs, have also crossed the Gaza-Sinai border.