Monday, November 15, 2004

The Yasser 1 Rocket - to be used only for peaceful purposes

Footage showing members of Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigade in Gaza City carrying the newly manufactured Yasser-1 rocket, which they claim has a 15-kilometer range, came as no surprise to Israeli security officials on Sunday.

"It is no secret that all the terror organizations operating in Gaza, whether Hamas, Fatah, or Islamic Jihad, strive constantly to improve their capability," a security official told The Jerusalem Post.

According to Fatah activists interviewed on various networks, the rocket can reach Ashkelon, and scores of rockets have already been amassed in the group's arsenal.

But, the security official said, one cannot rule out the possibility that the rockets carried by activists attending the rally in memory of Yasser Arafat were in fact dummies – an opinion shared by other security officials. "Usually if they [terrorists] have a new addition to their arsenal, they first try it out and then show it off before television cameras in order to brag," another official said.

A member of Fatah identified as Abu Muhammad, however, told the Maariv Web site that the group's "engineers" had been working to manufacture a better rocket with an improved range.

He said the group had no intention of firing the rocket inside Israel, and declared that its "struggle" against Israel was confined to the 1967 borders. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told reporters at an Id al-Fitr celebration he had heard about the new rocket in media reports.