The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has apparently recycled shells found on the wrecks of British warships which were sunk off the coast of Gaza during World War One.
In a documentary film broadcast on Sunday, Al Jazeera revealed that Al-Qassam Brigades could in such a way overcome the consequences of the Israeli-led siege imposed on Gaza, which are in part intended to undermine its ability to manufacture weapons.
The internationally-backed siege has been in place for over 14 years. During this time, Israel has carried out three major offensives that have together killed thousands of Palestinians, wounded tens of thousands more and devastated the civilian infrastructure in the coastal territory.
For the first time, Hamas allowed its arms factories to be filmed. The documentary showed Hamas operatives recycling shells found in two sunken Royal Navy warships. The explosive in the shells was tested and, found to be still useable, was fitted into the warheads of Al-Qassam’s own rockets.
“Unfortunately, Hamas got there before us,” said Israeli TV reporter Nir Dvori on Tuesday, referring to the shells on the warships. “The Israeli army siege on Gaza made it difficult for Hamas to get metal and explosives to produce rockets. This pushed it to look for these materials in unconventional locations. Hamas marine personnel found these materials on board the warships.”
According to former sailor Rami Sidnai, the Israeli navy has been looking for the two British ships secretly. “Security issues prevented us from reaching them. Unfortunately, Hamas found them before us.”
Moreover, the documentary, produced by Palestinian journalist Tamer Al-Mishal, revealed how Al-Qassam fighters found a massive network of pipes installed before the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005. The pipes were said to have been used to steal fresh water from the aquifer under the Gaza Strip. Al-Qassam promptly disassembled the network, extracted the pipes and used them to make rocket casings.
Additional explosives were removed from “hundreds” of unexploded Israel munitions after the 2014 military offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke on camera about regional and international pressure imposed on the movement to give up its arms and end its resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “Hamas gave no pledge to any mediator related to the development of resistance arms,” he insisted.
However, according to Dore Gold, a former Israeli Ambassador to the UN and advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, “If we are ever going to develop peaceful relations between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza… dismantling Hamas’s infrastructure must be part of any potential deal in order to be feasible.”
Former Israeli General and National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror conceded that the Palestinians have succeeded in building their [military] capabilities. “Today, they have ability to build weapon systems, mainly long-distance rockets. They have something very notable and have improved their domestic production. They learn all the time and improve their abilities. We exert many efforts to know about these abilities in order to neutralise then whenever we can.”
According to Ami Ayalon, the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, “After at least two Israeli offensives on Gaza, the result is that it could not disarm Gaza on its own and should not. It will be a disaster if we attempt to disarm Hamas by ourselves.” He added his belief that Hamas is “stronger” than before. “The issue is complicated. We have to make a new political reality, otherwise Hamas is getting stronger.”