A Visit to a Gaza Rocket Factory
The vehicle finally stops at a dirt track. The Islamic Jihad rocket factory is housed in a kind of garden shed. The hut measures five meters by five meters, metal pipes with small wings lean against the wall in the corner: Half finished Qassams. There are several tightly packed garbage bags on a shelf. "TNT," says Abdul and produces a chunk. The explosive looks like lumpy sugar. A large cauldron is sitting ready on a gas cooker while bags with Hebrew writing are piled up high up against the wall. "Fertilizer for the rocket fuel," Abdul says and grins. "We get it in Israel." [my emphasis]
Abdul is 22 but, tall and lanky as he is, he could still pass for 16. He has been making rockets for three and a half years and says he has finished hundreds of Qassams. A veteran with a double life: He studies geography during the day and makes his contribution to the Jihad at night.
The team can make up to 100 rockets per night shift, but today it won't be more than 10. Instead of the usual 12, only three of Abdul's men have turned up tonight. "The other guys are over in Egypt, shopping," he says, adding that the militants are just ordinary people who want to experience the open border with the neighboring country. Will they be looking for ingredients for building the Qassams? "Hardly," the oldest of the group laughs. "They are buying potato chips. We have enough raw materials to last for a few years." [my emphasis]
The presence of smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border have ensured that there is never a lack of supplies. "The TNT comes to us from Sudan via Egypt." Other elements arrive by boat across the sea to Gaza. "We get some from Eastern Europe." The raw materials for one large rocket cost up to €500. The money to finance the operation comes the same route as the materials. "The Israeli blockade doesn't affect us; it's just intended to plunge the people into misery."