Israeli army and intelligence officers have concluded {that a} important variety of the weapons utilized by Hamas within the October 7 assaults and within the Gaza warfare got here from an unlikely supply: the Israeli army itself .

For years, analysts have pointed to underground smuggling routes to clarify how Hamas has change into so armed regardless of an Israeli army blockade of the Gaza Strip. However current intelligence has proven the extent to which Hamas was in a position to construct a lot of its missiles and anti-tank weapons out of the 1000’s of munitions that didn’t detonate when Israel dropped them on Gaza, based on specialists. in arms and Israeli and Western intelligence. officers Hamas can also be arming its fighters with weapons stolen from Israeli army bases.

The intelligence gathered throughout the months of combating revealed that, because the Israeli authorities misjudged the intentions of Hamas earlier than October 7, additionally they underestimated their capability to acquire weapons.

What is obvious now’s that the very weapons that Israeli forces have used to implement a blockade of Gaza for the previous 17 years are actually getting used towards them. Israeli and American army explosives have allowed Hamas to shell Israel with rockets and, for the primary time, penetrate Israeli cities from Gaza.

“Unexploded ordnance is a principal supply of explosives for Hamas,” mentioned Michael Cardash, the previous deputy head of the Israel Nationwide Police's Bomb Disposal Division and a guide to the Israeli police. “They take open bombs from Israel, artillery bombs from Israel, and quite a lot of them are used, in fact, and reused for his or her explosives and their rockets.”

Weapons specialists say about 10 % of munitions sometimes fail to detonate, however in Israel's case, the determine may very well be increased. Israel's arsenal contains missiles from the Vietnam period, lengthy discontinued by the USA and different army powers. The failure fee of some missiles may very well be as excessive as 15 %, mentioned an Israeli intelligence official who, like others interviewed for this text, spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate issues of intelligence.

By all accounts, years of sporadic bombing and the current bombing of Gaza have drenched the world with 1000’s of tons of unexploded ordnance ready for use once more. A 750-pound bomb that fails to detonate can change into tons of of rockets or missiles.

Hamas didn’t reply to messages searching for remark. The Israeli army mentioned in a press release that it was dedicated to dismantling Hamas however didn’t reply to particular questions in regards to the group's weapons.

Israeli officers knew earlier than the October assaults that Hamas may salvage some Israeli-made weapons, however the intention shocked arms specialists and diplomats.

The Israeli authorities additionally knew that their armories have been susceptible to theft. A army report from early final yr famous that 1000’s of bullets and tons of of weapons and grenades have been stolen from poorly guarded bases.

From there, the report mentioned, some made their approach to the West Financial institution, and others to Gaza by way of the Sinai. However the report focuses on army safety. The results have been handled virtually as an afterthought: “We fed our enemies with our weapons,” learn one line of the report, which was seen by the New York Instances.

The results turned evident on October 7. Hours after Hamas cleared the border, 4 Israeli troopers found the physique of a Hamas gunman who was killed outdoors the Re'im army base. Hebrew writing was seen on a grenade on his belt, mentioned one of many troopers, who acknowledged it as an Israeli bulletproof grenade, a current mannequin. Different Hamas fighters overran the bottom, and Israeli army officers say some weapons have been looted and returned to Gaza.

A couple of miles away, members of an Israeli forensics staff collected one of many 5,000 rockets fired by Hamas that day. Inspecting the missile, they found that its military-grade explosives had possible come from an unexploded Israeli missile fired at Gaza throughout a earlier warfare, based on an Israeli intelligence official.

The October 7 assaults confirmed the patchwork arsenal that Hamas had stitched collectively. It included Iranian-made assault drones and North Korean rocket launchers, the kinds of weapons Hamas is thought to smuggle into Gaza by the tunnels. Iran stays a serious supply of cash and weapons for Hamas.

However different weapons, resembling anti-tank explosives, RPG warheads, thermobaric grenades and improvised units have been changed by Israeli weapons, based on Hamas movies and stays found by Israel.

Missiles and rockets require large quantities of explosive materials, which officers say is essentially the most troublesome merchandise to smuggle into Gaza.

Nonetheless, Hamas fired so many missiles and rockets on October 7 that Israel's Iron Dome air protection system was unable to maintain up. The rockets hit villages, cities and army bases, offering cowl for the militants who stormed into Israel. A nuclear missile struck a army base believed to accommodate a part of Israel's nuclear missile program.

Hamas as soon as relied on supplies like fertilizers and powdered sugar — which, pound for pound, usually are not as highly effective as military-grade explosives — to construct rockets. However since 2007, Israel has enforced a decent embargo, proscribing the import of products, together with electronics and pc gear, that may very well be used to make weapons.

That blockade and a crackdown on smuggling tunnels main into and out of Gaza is forcing Hamas to get inventive.

Their manufacturing capabilities are actually refined sufficient to look into bomb warheads weighing as much as 2,000 kilos, to reap the explosives and to repurpose them.

“They’ve a army trade in Gaza. Some are above floor, some are underground, and they’re able to manufacture a lot of what they want,” mentioned Eyal Hulata, who served as Israel's nationwide safety adviser. and head of the Nationwide Safety Council earlier than resigning early. final yr.

A Western army official mentioned a lot of the explosives Hamas makes use of in its warfare with Israel seem to have been manufactured from unexploded ordnance launched by Israel. One instance, the official mentioned, was a booby lure that killed 10 Israeli troopers in December.

Hamas's army wing, the Qassam Brigades, has been flaunting its manufacturing capabilities for years. After a 2014 warfare with Israel, it established engineering groups to gather unexploded ordnance resembling shells and American-made MK-84 bombs.

These groups are working with the police's explosive ordnance disposal unit, enabling folks to securely return to their houses. They’re additionally serving to Hamas put together for the following warfare.

“Our technique goals to recuperate these items, turning this disaster into a possibility,” a Qassam Brigades commander informed Al Jazeera in 2020.

Qassam's media arm has launched movies in recent times exhibiting precisely what they have been doing: sawing into warheads, eradicating explosive materials — normally a powder — and melting it down for reuse.

In 2019, Qassam commandos found tons of of munitions on two World Conflict I-era British warships that had sunk off the coast of Gaza a century earlier. The invention, Qassam boasted, made it attainable to make tons of of recent rockets.

Early within the present warfare, a Qassam video confirmed militants assembling Yassin 105 rockets in a sunless manufacturing facility.

“Essentially the most important means for Hamas to acquire weapons is thru home manufacturing,” mentioned Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Center East coverage analyst who grew up in Gaza. “It's only a tweak of chemistry and you are able to do virtually something you need.”

Israel is proscribing the huge import of building supplies that can be utilized to construct rockets and different weapons. However every new spherical of combating leaves behind neighborhoods of rubble from which militants can dig up pipes, cement and different priceless supplies, Mr. Alkhatib mentioned.

Hamas can not do the whole lot. Some issues are simpler to purchase on the black market and smuggle into Gaza. Sinai, the largely uninhabited desert area between Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip, stays a hub for arms smuggling. Weapons from conflicts in Libya, Eritrea and Afghanistan have been found in Sinai, based on Israeli intelligence assessments.

In accordance with two Israeli intelligence officers, no less than a dozen small tunnels have been nonetheless operating between Gaza and Egypt earlier than October 7. An Egyptian authorities spokesman mentioned its army was doing its half to shut the tunnels on its facet of the border. “Lots of the weapons at the moment within the Gaza Strip are the results of smuggling from Israel,” the spokesman mentioned in an e mail.

However the besieged streets of Gaza itself are more and more a supply of weapons.

Israel estimates it has carried out no less than 22,000 assaults in Gaza since October 7. Every usually entails a number of rounds, which suggests tens of 1000’s of munitions are prone to be dropped or fired – and 1000’s haven’t detonated.

“Artillery, hand grenades, different munitions – tens of 1000’s of unexploded ordnance can be left behind after this warfare,” mentioned Charles Birch, the top of the UN Mine Motion Service in Gaza. These “are like a free present to Hamas.”

Vivian Yee contributed reporting from Cairo, and Zakaria Zakaria from Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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