What is the cost of all those Hamas Rockets that Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors?
With almost a 90% success rate, Israeli officials have already concluded that the Iron Dome is worth the price when compared to how much Israel would pay in lives and destruction of property if there was no Iron Dome.
Yet, what is the real cost for Hamas of continuing to fire rockets, and does this vary depending on long-range rockets which can hit Tel Aviv and central Israel in comparison to short-range rockets whose range is limited to along the Gaza border?
Of the more than 2,000 rockets fired over the last week – out of the 14,000 that Hamas is believed to have – only a few hundred have been the long-range rockets.
Missile experts Uzi Rubin and Tal Inbar said that the difference in cost is not significant enough to restrain Hamas.
This is true despite some of the rocket launchers have multi-barrels and are capable of firing between four and nine rockets at a time.
Rubin, considered one of the fathers of Israeli missile defense, said that even Hamas’ “best” rockets are relatively simply made, inexpensive, and not known for their extended range.
Unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has some expensive precision long-range rockets, Rubin said that Hamas’ long-range rockets are actually less accurate than its short-range ones.
Reports estimate the main short-range Hamas rocket called the Qassams cost anywhere from $300 to $500 to $800 per rocket.
There is much less public information about the cost of Hamas’ longer-range rockets such as: the R-160, M-302D, M302-B, J-80, M-75, Fajr 3, Fajr 5 and a second-generation M-75.
Former Head of the space research center of the Fisher Institute Tal Inbar estimates their cost to be in the low thousands of dollars per rocket – or two to three times more than the shorter-range rockets.
Iron Dome Costs Far More Than Hamas Rockets
This is still nowhere near Iron Domes’ interceptors’ cost – estimated between $50,000 and $100,000 per interceptor.
Interestingly, Inbar said that a significant part of the cost was less the cheap materials and manufacturing, the costs of smuggling certain items from the Sinai, Sudan and other places for rockets which cannot be made locally.
He added that Hamas does not have cyber capabilities to steal funds electronically like North Korea or other sources of income like Hezbollah.
However, both Inbar and Rubin said that Iran delivers or pays for nearly all the rockets, meaning that it doesn’t really cost Hamas anything to replenish its arsenal.
Inbar noted a statement by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in December 2020 when he said, “Most of the weapons, missiles, facilities that Palestinian resistance groups have in Gaza are supplied by the IRGC Quds Force. The Islamic Republic used its diplomatic relationship with Sudan to establish a weapon factory for Gaza in Sudan.”
He also cited an interview by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh last May when he stated, “I am particularly specifying the Islamic Republic of Iran which has not faltered in supporting and funding the resistance financially, militarily, and technically. This is an example of the Republic’s strategy that was established by Imam Khomeini.”
Even if cost cannot slow them down, given that Hamas has already used up a few hundred long -range rockets to fire in the direction of Tel Aviv and central Israel, might they soon run out of the capability to hit Israel in these crucial spots?
Both Rubin and Inbar were dismissive, saying that even IDF intelligence at best has imperfect estimates.
Rubin noted that the IDF had not known Hamas had a rocket that could reach the Eilat area until it was used.
They said they were confident Hamas had plenty more long-range rockets to fire on Tel Aviv and central Israel, with the proof being that at the tail end of every recent Gaza war, they were able to fire some rockets anywhere they wanted.
Accordingly, they suggested that Hamas might be able to keep up some amount of regular rocket fire on Tel Aviv and central Israel for a period of weeks.