During his September 2009 visit in Sudan, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al said: "Despite the siege, the closing of the [border] crossings, the restrictions, the grand plot [against Hamas], and the navies from the East and the West preventing us from [obtaining] weapons, we, thank Allah, buy, manufacture, and smuggle them. This is what Allah has commanded us." Two months later, at a meeting with Arab party leaders in Damascus, Mash'al announced that "outwardly [we in] Gaza speak of reconciliation and building, but the truth is that most of [our] money and effort is directed toward resistance and military preparations. We are engaged in resistance."
According to Mash'al, the manufacture of arms in Gaza, alongside weapons purchases and smuggling, is continuing steadily. The website of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, has a special section devoted to the weapons manufactured by the Brigades in Gaza; it includes technical specifications, photos, and information about the manufacturing process and the use of these weapons against Israel.
The introductory page to this section states that through constant development of new weapons, the Al-Qassam Brigades have succeeded in keeping Israel in check: "We have now begun observing qualitative and important achievements in the resistance's development of weapons against the Zionist enemy... in accordance with the law that determines the right to self-defense, which Allah ingrained in man since humanity's beginnings. Moreover, arming and maintaining arms are considered necessities of jihad, which is a [religious] duty; and since the fulfillment of a duty carries a reward, arming and developing weapons is a religious commandment for which Allah rewards jihad fighters.
"The Palestinian resistance, with the Al-Qassam Brigades at its head, is striving to compensate for the great inferiority in its ability to arm itself, from which it suffers as it faces the Zionist enemy's advanced arsenal. It does so by innovating [sufficiently] effective alternative means, which prove [the resistance's] ability to curb the Zionist enemy and achieve a balance of terror against it... The Al-Qassam [Brigades] have bent their minds [to this task] night and day, and their pure hands have persevered, thanks to the creativity with which Allah has endowed them, in developing weapons with modest means, which are worthy of record in the annals of war..."
A page on the site that surveys the history of weapons manufacture discusses the Al-Qassam Brigades' "military industry department": "[The department] encompasses all the Brigades' specializations in the field of military industry. It has an army of thinkers, inventors, engineers, professionals, and workers, an army that continues [its work] night and day, in order to produce the glory and honor of the ummah, an army that digs into the rocks with its fingernails in order to manufacture [weapons] for the jihad fighters to use in fighting the Zionist occupier..."
Following is a short summary of the information presented on the site:
To view the MEMRI Palestinian Media Studies Project page, visit http://www.memri.org/palestinianmediastudiesproject.
The Qassam is a surface-to-surface rocket which the Al-Qassam Brigades have used to strike Israeli settlements close to the Gaza border; three types of Qassam rockets are manufactured in Gaza. In the past, Qassams were also fired at Israeli settlements within the Gaza Strip. The website states: "The Al-Qassam Brigades, leading the field of weapons development, carried out the first Palestinian experiment in the manufacture of locally [produced] rockets to threaten [Israeli] settlements throughout the Gaza Strip... The manufacture of these rockets, especially those called Qassam 1 and Qassam 2, is thought to be the local military industry that most troubles the Hebrew state, especially since [these rockets] penetrate its cities and can [also] penetrate the depths of Israel's [territory], far beyond the military checkpoints and the impervious walls." In 2001, the Al-Qassam Brigades claimed credit for rocket strikes on the Israeli town of Sderot in a communiqué which appears on the site: "O Palestinians, we swear to Allah and to you that we will make the lives of the Zionists an unbearable hell, that we will penetrate their settlements and cities and eject them from our lands in humiliation, with Allah's help... We promise you that we will remain forever loyal until we liberate all of the land of Palestine."
Regarding ongoing weapons development, the site says: "The war of minds between the occupation and the Palestinian resistance has not ceased, and every time the Israeli occupation forces try to tighten their grip, the jihad fighters work tirelessly to find an alternative, so that the flame of resistance will continue [to burn]. Their [military] means are constantly developing, and the search for new [weapons] is an ongoing one. And reality has shown that every day the resistance [fighters] have a new [weapon]. Witness the Qassam 1, 2, and 3 rockets, as well as the Al-Bana 1 and 2 and the Al-Batar rockets, and the Hamas Uzi. The names are many, and every weapon bears the words 'made in Palestine.'"
The website presents the technical specifications of the two original models of the Qassam rocket:
Qassam 1: Length: 70 cm; caliber: 8 cm; range: 2-3 km. Warhead: Contains 600g of high-explosive TNT. The launcher cannot be accurately aimed at a target.
Qassam 2: Length: 180 cm; caliber: 12 cm; range: 9-12 km, which, according to the site, "enables it to reach the Zionist population centers." Warhead: Contains 5-6 kg of high-explosive TNT. Launcher: Cannot be operated remotely, mounted at an angle and thus necessitating a tripod, aimed with a compass.
The site discusses the Al-Qassam Brigades' use of 60 and 80 mm mortars, as well as mortars of other calibers, which it says are highly accurate and have destructive force, and have been used to target Israeli military posts and settlements both within and outside of the Gaza Strip: "At first, mortars were used to blow up military posts, bases, and fortifications. With time, as medium caliber mortars were produced, [the fighters] began to use them to crush a greater number of settlements and military posts located [within the Gaza] Strip, causing loss and damage of life and property. A prominent [example] was the [Israeli] settlement Neve Dekalim, which received a hefty share of these mortars... that troubled the Zionist enemy and hastened its retreat from the Gaza Strip, thanks to the constant hits and the heavy losses the occupation suffered.
"Recently, as the resistance procured large caliber mortars, these began, for the first time, to replace the Qassam rockets in strikes on several Zionist settlements located [outside the Gaza] Strip, which the mortars could not previously reach – such as Zikim, Miflasim, Kfar Aza, and Kfar Saad."
Al-Yasin Anti-Tank Missiles
The Al-Yasin is a shoulder-fired armor-piercing anti-tank missile. Another model is designed to target personnel and facilities. The missile comprises three parts: a hollow charge warhead with a metallic inner wall and a frontal cone; a tail with a foldable fin, to keep the missile steady and balanced during flight; and a charge that gives the missile its initial propulsion, consisting of easily procurable materials. The launcher is a hollow tube open at both ends, with an interior diameter of 40 mm and a mechanism for setting the aim, azimuth and range up to 150 meters.
Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP)
The EFP developed by the Al-Qassam Brigades is a hollow cone-shaped armor-piercing charge. In 2003, one such charge successfully penetrated a Merkava tank, killing four IDF troops. Al-Qassam engineers designed the charge to be operable with a relatively small amount of explosives without diminishing its efficacy: "To blow up a Zionist tank with a roadside bomb, for example, a large amount of explosives is needed – up to 100 kg. Moreover, only trained professionals can easily manufacture [such a] charge. Therefore, the Al-Qassam [fighters] worked to develop charges that use as little [explosive] as possible, not exceeding 25 kg... Al-Qassam engineers manufactured an EFP that is a hollow charge shaped like a cone, which increases its efficiency. The charge's components and manufacturing method are simple and straightforward, and a jihad fighter can manufacture, prepare, plant, and detonate this charge easily."
The website also said that the EFPs were an important factor in deterring the IDF: "The Al-Qassam Brigades use the charge when the enemy tries to invade Gaza, and it conveys a clear message to the Zionist leaders, [namely] that whenever they plan to invade Gaza, they should think well before [they do so, because] Gaza will become a fire blazing beneath the feet of the occupiers. Additionally, [the use of EFPs] highlights the superiority of the Al-Qassam mind in manufacturing different kinds of charges, which have become a strategic weapon in repelling the invaders."
The site points out that the explosive belts manufactured by the Al-Qassam Brigades are used in "martyrdom attacks" [i.e. suicide bombings], which are a strategic weapon that has changed the face of the struggle with Israel: "The martyrdom operations that the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out under the supervision of 'The Engineer' Yahya 'Ayyash are considered to be one of the weapons that turned the tide in the struggle with the Zionist enemy... In the stage of [martyrdom operations], several types of locally manufactured weapons were introduced into the combat arena – [weapons manufactured] from simple materials that are readily available in local markets. 'The Engineer' used them to manufacture explosive belts that served the Al-Qassam mujahideen in their martyrdom operations, as well as destructive charges that were detonated in various locations among the soldiers of the enemy and groups of settlers, and also in [the preparation of] car bombs. This stunned the enemy, which recruited armies in order to mount a long and serious hunt for Al-Qassam's 'Engineer,' about whom former Israeli deputy minister of internal security Gideon Ezra said, 'The Engineer's professionalism and ability were manifested in his expertise and ability to make [explosive] charges out of nothing.' These ticking human bombs also continued [to be used] when the Al-Aqsa Intifada began, and the martyrdom operations became a strategic weapon which the enemy fears and anticipates."
Al-Batar is an anti-tank rocket consisting of a meter long tube with a six inch caliber, containing a mortar that is similar to an RPG. The rocket, which has a maximal range of one km, can carry over four kg of explosives and hit precise targets. The rocket is mounted on the ground and operated by a remote control device, such that the operator can be located at a distance, out of harm's way.
The Al-Qassam Brigades manufacture various kinds of grenades made of plastic and iron. Fired from a launcher, the grenades have a range of over 150 meters, and are therefore more powerful than standard hand grenades. They are stamped with a serial number, like grenades manufactured in factories throughout the world.
 In addition to the weapons described below, the website claims that in the past the Al-Qassam Brigades also manufactured "Uzi submachine guns," but ceased their production in 1996, after PLO apparatuses raided their factory and confiscated equipment and production parts.