Feb 1, 2009

Hamas Fires Iranian-Made C-802 Cruise Missile From Gaza

By Sean Osborne

Hamas fires first Iranian shore-to-ship C-802 missile from Gaza

DEBKAfile's military sources reveal a formidable addition to Hamas' arsenal: The missile fired from Gaza out to the Mediterranean last week was not a Qassam as reported but a C-802, the Iranian shore-to-ship Nur C-802 missile, which is based on the Chinese "Silkworm."

It was launched by Iranian officers who are training Hamas operatives in its use before delivering a large consignment. With its 120-km range and 165-kilo warhead, the C-802's mission is to break Israel's 40 km blockade of Gaza's waters. This is now the key objective of Tehran and the Palestinian Islamists.

The Israeli Navy's first brush with the C-802 was in the 2006 Lebanon war. On July 14, it was used by Hezbollah to cripple the Hanit missile ship opposite Beirut.

The Israeli military says last week's launch was a serious provocation and a violation of Hamas' own declared ceasefire of Jan. 19. The amount of these missiles smuggled into Gaza and their date of delivery, whether before Israel's 22-day military operation or into the ceasefire, is unknown.

Our sources affirm that arms smuggling to Gaza continues by land and sea at the pre-war tempo notwithstanding the brave talk in Jerusalem, Washington and Cairo of a concerted effort to stem the flow.

A field officer dealing with the traffic says Israeli officials' threats to hit back at each smuggling incident as though it was a missile launch have not lessened the flow of weapons heading into Gaza through Egyptian Sinai and the Philadelphi border Corridor.

Since 2006, military experts note, Iran has upgraded the C-802 in an important respect. Then, Hezbollah depended on the Lebanese army's sophisticated radar for accurate targeting of the Israeli warship. For Hizballah and Hamas, Iran's manufactures have come up with a version that operates without radar - 1,000 missiles have already been delivered to Hezbollah.

The new version has the attributes of a cruise missile: It has small radar reflectivity, is armed with a strong anti-jamming capability and can skim as low as 5-7 meters from the water's surface under the targeted ship's radar. Tehran claims its updated Nur anti-ship missile has 98 percent targeting effectiveness.


Hamas fires first Iranian shore-to-ship C-802 missile from Gaza - DEBKAfile Exclusive Report