Gaza’s resistance: Rockets built from Israeli missiles

by Sara Flounders, published on Workers World, May 18, 2021

The Israeli Zionists are attempting to monitor and control every movement of the Palestinian people on land and sea, including access to air, food and water. But Zionism and U.S. imperialism are finding that they are not all powerful. Those days are long gone.

The area of Gaza in Palestine is about the size of Detroit or Philadelphia, but far more densely populated. It is entirely encircled by a ring of Israeli military steel. Gaza is defenseless against Israeli jets and incoming cruise missiles, advanced artillery systems and missiles fired from Israeli ships, as well as shelling from Israeli tanks that surround it.

Nevertheless, Gaza has long been a center of resistance.

In May, Israeli jets in ten days killed more than 200 Palestinians, maimed thousands, destroyed major apartment blocks, ruined the faltering electric grid and shut down communication infrastructure.

Palestinians responded and fired more than 3,000 rockets in defense. Every Israeli missile that lands in Gaza supplies the raw material for the next generation of Palestinian rockets – thousands of small rockets of resistance. The ability to fire back has injected new revolutionary confidence into the Palestinian movement and into the regional and global movement in solidarity with Palestine.

This growing ability to extract a price for Israeli destruction is a game-changer. Israel and its U.S. backers are realizing, much to their great frustration, that they can no longer act against Gaza with complete impunity.

Israeli repression is not invincible

A number of articles in the global corporate media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, have covered this new development – that Israel is not invincible. (See tinyurl.com/nxmcaymz, tinyurl.com/tuh86cv5, tinyurl.com/z85b8vdj.)

Military experts in the corporate news coverage express frustration with the growing ability of Palestinian resistance groups to repurpose Israeli missiles and unexploded missiles. The latter, with their explosives and electronic equipment intact, become more valuable when reworked by Gaza’s resistance. But even metal piping from past Israeli settlements can be fashioned into small rockets that travel with ever-increasing range and accuracy.

The more high-tech Israeli missiles that are fired, the greater the number of homemade rockets that are likely to be returned. Workshops using rudimentary technology have manufactured, with great determination and increasing skill, thousands of rockets in Gaza – far more than formerly were smuggled in through resistance tunnels. Some estimate the number of stored rockets at 20,000 to 30,000.

Accuracy, distance and numbers are growing fast. As the May 13 New York Times article states:

“The rockets are of widely varying ranges and lack guidance systems, but the militants have been able to improve their accuracy. … The number of rockets fired each day in the most recent spate of hostilities is unprecedented. … [M]ore long-range attacks with 130 rockets [were] fired at Tel Aviv late Tuesday, representing close to 17 percent of all fired until that point. In 2014 that rate was at eight percent and in 2012 at less than one percent.”

Piercing the Israeli ‘Iron Dome’

The Zionist state has deliberately initiated a new war on Palestine with two blatant provocations. The first was a vicious attempt on May 6 to expropriate the homes of families in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrar, in the Old City of East Jerusalem. These attacks, by racist mobs and Israeli police, were on the anniversary of the Nakba, commemorating the driving out of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948.

Then, on May 7, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, Israeli police launched an attack on the revered al-Aqsa Mosque. The Zionist assault with stun grenades and tear gas on Muslims in the mosque during prayers was an outrageous cultural and religious insult.

Gaza responded with its small homemade rockets. For this defiance they were pummeled by Israeli jets. Israel also has an “Iron Dome” radar network that simultaneously fires hundreds of missiles. Built in 2011, the dome is maintained with $1.6 billion in U.S. funding. The amount of military aid the U.S. has sent Israel since its proclamation as a state in 1948 – the same year Zionists expelled Palestinians in the Nakba – averages out to $10 million a day.

The Palestinian resistance has now developed the ability to pierce Israel’s much publicized “Iron Dome” of anti-missile protection – by firing more than a hundred rockets almost simultaneously from multiple directions. Previously only one rocket was fired at a time. Firing hundreds of rockets can confuse sophisticated Israeli technology more than 10 percent of the time.

This simultaneous firing takes tremendous on-the-ground coordination by the Palestinian resistance. It means that organizational cohesion and coordination among Palestinian groups has grown.

Even if most rockets are blocked, the rockets fired from Gaza can now reach as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They have forced the grounding of air traffic at Ben Gurion airport. The Israeli ports of Ashdod and Ashkelon closed following attacks on port infrastructure.

Developing new methods of resistance

Previously, Palestinian fighters were able to smuggle some rockets and anti-tank weapons into Gaza – along with essential foods, medicine and fuel – through hundreds of tunnels. The Zionist state has retaliated with percussion bombardment and reinforced the Gaza fence with 20-foot-high galvanized steel. Since 2014, Egyptian collaboration with Zionism under the Al-Sisi presidency has blocked Palestinian access to the tunnels.

As Palestinians have developed new ways to resist, U.S. and Israeli militarists are accusing Iranian engineers of training Palestinians on how to repurpose existing materials. With typical imperialist arrogance, the argument is always that oppressed peoples cannot rise up “all by themselves” but that “someone else” must be to blame. Nowadays, if Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians or Afghanis make a determined stand and have military breakthroughs, then Iran is the one blamed.

But Palestinians are resourceful and have highly skilled engineers, machinists and technicians of their own. They use what is at hand – whether materials “provided” by Israeli bombardment, online technical manuals or training provided by persons in solidarity.

The greater skill facilitating Palestinian resistance is on-the-ground coordination and security required for military operations against Israeli occupation.

The Zionist state uses the existence of well-hidden rocket assembly facilities as an excuse to target the Palestinian civilian population and hundreds of crowded homes and apartment buildings in densely populated Gaza. But Palestinians have also developed effective anti-tank missiles to stop tanks. In past Zionist onslaughts, the Israelis have driven waves of tanks through Gaza, attempting to smash all in their path.

As Israeli crimes continue, the burning hatred and determination of a new generation of Palestinian fighters will grow. Their combative resistance of heroic proportions is igniting the region.

A general strike has been called throughout the occupied lands, including in Palestinian communities within the 1948 borders. Rockets from Syria and Lebanon have also been fired on Israel. Palestinians in Jordan and Lebanon are marching on the borders of Israel, demanding the Right Of Return.

The balance of forces is fundamentally shifting. There is no going back. Gaza has made the point that Zionists dropping more bombs, firing more missiles, only guarantees the return of rockets of resistance.


Sara Flounders is an American political writer who has been active in ‘progressive’ and anti-war organizing since the 1960s.  Sara is Co-Director of the International Action Center (IAC) and  a member of the Secretariat of Workers World Party  She also frequently writes for Workers World newspaper and publishes articles on the International Action Center website.

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