Air attacks: Gazan rockets and Israeli airstrikes

Approximately 39 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets
while over 4,000* Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

Source: B'Tselem Statistics

The media frequently report that "thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza." This is correct.

Media reports, however, contain little additional information. Here we will examine when the rockets began, how many Israelis they have killed, and the nature of the rockets.

The fact is that Gazan rockets were a response to Israeli violence.

The first rocket fired by Gazan resistance groups into Israel was in October 2001. This came after Israeli forces had shelled and invaded Gaza (photos here), killing approximately 250 Palestinians in Gaza in the previous year, plus another 320 Palestinians in the West Bank.

The first time any Israelis were killed by Gazan rockets was on June 28, 2004, and by that time, 2241 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces.

(Keep in mind, Israel has one of the most powerful militaries on earth, whereas Palestinian resistance groups often use homemade weaponry. Most Palestinian resistance consists of unarmed villagers, peacefully assembling - see this and this.)

The Tufah area of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, February 2001. The area had been shelled by Israeli forces. Not a single rocket had yet been fired from Gaza. (Photo by Alison Weir)
A Palestinian boy who had been shot by Israeli forces, Gaza Strip, February 2001. Not a single rocket had yet been fired from Gaza. Israeli forces had killed dozens of Palestinian children in the previous four months, many of them through gunfire to the head; no Israeli children had been killed. (Photo by Alison Weir)

According to Global Security, the production of rockets began in September 2001.

in 2001 Palestinian groups fired a total of 4 rockets. (according to the Jewish Policy Center and Jewish Virtual Library.

The first Gazan rocket to land in Israel was in 2002. (Jewish Policy Center)

For more information on Gaza, see "Understanding the Crisis in Gaza."


Until May 09, 2021, Gaza rockets had killed a total of 30 Israelis (see names below). During the same period, Israeli air strikes had killed more than 4,000* Gazans. An additional 9 Israelis have reportedly died from rocket attacks since then. For information on these recent deaths see here.

  • On May 10, 2021, a foreign worker was also killed in a rocket attack, a 32 year old Indian woman named Soumya Santhosh.
  • On May 18, 2021, two foreign workers from Thailand were killed in a rocket attack. The names are not yet known.

Over the years, a number of Isrealis have also been killed by mortars launched from Palestine. See below for a list of mortar deaths.

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

History of the Israel Lobby

Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Information largely missing from U.S. news reports. Read the Blog

How many people have died from Gaza rockets into Israel?

Total fatalities in the history of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel: 44 Read more...

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Israelis killed by Palestinian rockets through May 9, 2021

(More recent names will be added as the information becomes available.)
Date of attack Location Name Age Status
2004.06.28 Sderot Mordechai Yosephov 49 civilian
2004.06.28 Sderot Afik Ohion Zehavi 4 civilian
2004.09.29 Sderot Yuval Abebeh 4 civilian
2004.09.29 Sderot Dorit (Masarat) Benisian 2 civilian
2005.01.15 Sderot Ayala-Haya Abukasis 17 civilian
2005.07.15 Moshav Nativ Ha‘asara Dana Gelkowitz 22 civilian
2006.11.15 Sderot Faina Slutzker 57 civilian
2006.11.21 Sderot Yaakov Yaakobov 43 civilian
2007.05.21 Sderot Shirel Friedman 32 civilian
2007.05.27 Sderot Oshri Oz 36 civilian
2008.02.27 Sderot Roni Yihye 47 civilian
2008.05.12 Moshav Yesha Shuli Katz 70 civilian
2008.12.27 Netivot Beber Vaknin 58 civilian
2008.12.29 Ashdod Irit Sheetrit 39 civilian
2008.12.29 Ashkelon Hani al Mahdi* 27 soldier
2010.03.18 Moshav Nativ Ha‘asara Manee Singueanphon* 30 soldier
2011.04.07 Kraf Aza Daniel Viflic 16 civilian
2011.08.20 Be’er sheva Yossi Shushan 38 civilian
2011.10.29 Ashkelon Moshe Ami 56 civilian
2012.11.15 Kiryat Malachi Yitzchak Amsalem 24 civilian
2012.11.15 Kiryat Malachi Mira Sharf 25 civilian
2012.11.15 Kiryat Malachi Aharon Smadja 49 civilian
2012.11.21 Eshkol Regional Council Boris Yarmolnik† 28 soldier
2014.07.19 village near Dimona Ouda Lafi al-Waj* 32 civilian
2014.08.22 Gan Yavne Netanel Maman† 22 soldier
2018.11.12 Ashkelon Nina Ginisdanova 74 civilian
2019.05.05 Ashkelon Moshe Agadi 58 civilian
2019.05.05 Ashkelon Ziad al-Hamamdah 49 civilian
2019.05.05 Ashkelon Moshe Feder 67 civilian
2019.05.05 Ashkelon Pinhas Menahem Prezuazman 21 civilian
2021.05.12 Ashkelon Soumya Santosh (Indian) 31 civilian
2021.05.12 Ashkelon Nela Gurevitch 52 civilian
2021.05.12 Rishon Lezion Leah Yom-Tov 63 civilian
2021.05.12 Dahmash Khalil Awad (Palestinian) 52 civilian
2021.05.12 Dahmash Nadeen Awad (Palestinian) 16 civilian
2021.05.12 Gaza border Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib 21 soldier
2021.05.12 Ashelon Ido Avigal 5 civilian
2021.05.15 Ramat Gan Gershon Franko 50 civilian

Palestinian "airstrike" weaponry
and Israeli airstrike weaponry

Like the death toll, the firepower on the two sides of this conflict is vastly uneven. Here, we'll examine some of the weaponry used by each side. First we will look at Palestinian weapons and below that Israeli weapons.

Palestinian weaponry

Palestine has no aircraft of any kind, therefore its "airstrikes" actually consist of various types of land-based weapons.

[Related article: Israeli war planes vs Palestinian balloons, kites & rockets]

Qassam Rockets

The Qassam series of home made rockets are designed and manufactured in the Gaza Strip. According to Wikipedia:

The rocket consists of a steel cylinder, containing a rectangular block of the propellant. A steel plate which forms and supports the nozzles is then spot-welded to the base of the cylinder. The warhead consists of a simple metal shell surrounding the explosives, and is triggered by a fuse constructed using a simple firearm cartridge, a spring and a nail.

Simple metal A-frames used to launch Qassam rockets (Wikimedia Commons)

This rudimentary design is propelled by a mixture of sugar and amonium nitrate (common fertilizer), launched from a simple metal frame, and has no guidance system, making it highly inaccurate.

BM-21 Grad

Another unguided rocket used in Palestine is the BM-21 Grad. Produced in China and Iran, this Soviet designed weapon has a farther range than the Qassam and is often fired from the back of a truck.

Member of Al-Quds Brigade carrying Grad missile (PalToday)

9M133 Kornet

The most sophisticated weapon Hamas has used against their Israeli occupiers is the Russian made Kornet laser guided anti-tank missile. The number of these in Hamas's possesion is unknown but to date they are only responsible for two Israeli deaths.

A Russian soldier fires a Kornet missile, 2017 (Wikimedia Commons)

Other rockets

According to the Israeli Military, Hamas has used various other types of missiles including the home made M-75, Ayyash 250, and Al Quds rockets as well as the Chinese M-302 and WS-1E along with the Iranian Fajr-3 & 5, and Badr 3. Although some of these weapons reportedly have longer ranges and larger warheads than the BM-21 Grad, there has not been a single incidence where one of these rockets fired from the occupied territories has caused an Israeli death.


Hamas rebels fire a mortar shell in Gaza (Reuters)

Aside from self propelled rockets, Palestinian rebels have fired morters at Israeli military personnel. Mortars can be easily carried by one person and consist of an explosive shell launched from a short metal tube. According to B'Tselem, Palestinian mortars have killed 20 Israelis including 13 soldiers. See the table below for details.

Balloons & Kites

Masked Palestinians prepare to attach a gas canister to a bunch of balloons on Feb. 10 before releasing them along the Israel-Gaza border fence. (Getty Images)

Beginning in 2018, some Gaza groups in desperation began using incendiary balloons and kites. As of March 26, 2020 these have caused no deaths or injuries.

Israeli airstrikes

Israel often launches airstrikes on Gaza that destroy residential neighborhoods, hospitals, churches, mosques, day care centers, historical sites, and more. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children have lost their lives in these attacks.

While Palestinian rebels attempt to retaliate against these attacks by launching primitive, home made rockets, the Israeli military is firing sophisticated, laser guided bombs and missiles from US made fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Fighter jets from the IAF's second F-35 squadron, the Lions of the South, fly over southern Israel (Times of Israel)
Modified Israeli F-15Ds known as F-15 Baz (Breaking Defense)
Israeli F-16I "Sufa" in flight (Wikimedia Commons)
Israeli Air Force Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter, June 8, 2012 (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

Below are just a few of the many types of bombs and missiles used by Israeli forces against their much more poorly equipped neighbors.

AGM-114 Hellfire self guided air-to-surface missile developed by Lockhead Martine (Israeli Firepower Ltd.)
Israeli manufacterer Rafael Systems' Gil 2 antitank missile (Rafael Systems)
Israeli F-16 with BLU-109 forged steel point tip, and a BLU109 JDAM, 2000lb bunker buster penetration bomb (Wikimedia Commons)
Designed by Rockwell International, the GBU 15 (Guided Bomb Unit) is an unpowered, glide weapon used to destroy high-value enemy targets. (Wikimedia Commons)
US designed GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bomb (Wikimedia Commons)
The GBU-28 is a 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) laser-guided "bunker busting" bomb manufactured by Raytheon(Wikimedia Commons)

In addition to these, Israel also employs a number of unmanned aerial drones. Among these are what are known as "loitering munitions", drones which circle in a given vicinity for some time until they aquire a target and attack.

The IAI Harpy is an expendable, unmanned autonomous aircraft produced by Israel Aerospace Industries. It is designed to attack radar systems and carries a high explosive warhead. (The Drive/IAI)

Iron Dome

An anti-rocket defense system was put in place in Israel in April 2011. A collaboration between Israel's Raphael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Raytheon, it's purpose is to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells before they can reach populated areas of Israel.

Iron Dome missile test (Israeli Defense Ministry)

The United States initially contributed $1.3 billion to the project, and has since given several hundred million more. Despite this, after purchasing two Iron Dome batteries from Raphael for use at home, US Army officials requested the source code and were denied.

While Israel touts the project as an ironclad success, others raise questions about its effectiveness.

Damage caused by Palestinian and Israeli weaponry

This huge disparity in weapon technology leads to a predictable difference in the damage caused by their use. While Israelis have to deal with the occasional pothole or minor structural damage, it's not uncommon for Palestinians to see an entire neighborhood wiped out in a single attack.

Israeli citizen inspects hole left by Palestinian rocket - Ashdod, Israel 2014 (JTA)
Crowd inspects blast crater made by an Israeli missile - Gaza, 2008 (WSJ)
Damage caused by rockets fired from Gaza - Sderot, Israel, 2014 (Algemeiner)
Aftermath of Israeli missile strike - Rafah, Gaza, 2020 (Times of Israel)
Police officer examines burn marks from Gazan rocket - Sderot, Israel, 2016 (Times of Israel)
Palestinian children stand beside a crater created by an Israeli airstrike - Khan Yunis, Gaza, 2019 (France 24)
Rocket hole in the wall of a house - Sderot, Israel (built over the Palestinian villages of Huj and Najd) (NYT)
Apartment building destroyed in Israeli airstrike - Gaza City, 2014 (CNN)
Damage to a roof hit by a Gazan rocket - Negev, Israel, 2012 (JNS)
Neighborhood destroyed by Israeli weaponry - Shejaiya, Gaza, 2014 (The Telegraph)
Car totalled after rocket fired from Gaza strikes carport - Ashdod, Israel, 2014 (Times of Israel)
Car unrecognizable after Israelii airstrike - Khan Yunis, Gaza, 2018 (Haaretz)
House badly damaged by Gazan rocket - Kfar Saba, Israel, 2019 (YNET)
Neighborhood annihilated by Israeli airstrike - Shuja'iyya, Gaza City, 2014 (NBC)

Israelis killed by Palestinian mortars

Date of attack Location Name Age Status
2008.05.09 Kibbutz Kfar Aza Jimmy Kedoshim 48 civilian
2008.06.05 Kibbutz Nir-Oz Amnon Rosenberg 51 civilian
2008.12.29 IDF base near Nahal Oz Lutfi Nasraladin*† 38 soldier
2012.11.20 Eshkol Regional Council Eliyan Salem el-Nabari*† 33 civilian
2012.11.20 Eshkol Regional Council Yosef Nachman Partok† 18 soldier
2014.07.15 Erez Crossing Dror Khenin† 37 civilian
2014.07.23 Ashkelon Coast RC Narakorn Kittiyangkul* 36 civilian
2014.07.27? Sdot Negev RC Barak Refael Degorker† 27 soldier
2014.07.28 Eshkol RC Eliav Kahlon† 22 soldier
2014.07.28 Eshkol RC Meidan Maymon Biton† 20 soldier
2014.07.28 Eshkol RC Niran Cohen† 20 soldier
2014.07.28 Eshkol RC Adi Briga† 23 soldier
2014.07.31 Eshkol RC Daniel Marsh† 22 soldier
2014.07.31 Eshkol RC Omri Tai† 22 soldier
2014.07.31 Eshkol RC Shai Kushner† 20 soldier
2014.07.31 Eshkol RC Noam Rosenthal† 20 soldier
2014.07.31 Eshkol RC Liran Adir† 31 soldier
2014.08.22 Sha‘ar HaNegev RC Daniel Tregerman 4 civilian
2014.08.26 Kibbutz Nirim Ze’evik Etzion 55 civilian
2014.08.26 Kibbutz Nirim Shahar Melamed 43 civilian

For a list of deaths from all types of weaponry, see our Israel Palestine Timeline website.

This page is a work in progress. We will continue to add more information as time permits.

Update 11/02/2022: We had previously listed April 16th, 2001 as the date the first rocket was launched into Isreal from Gaza. We also mentioned this in our video. However, upon researching this further, we found that the source we had used was inaccurate, and that other sources reported that the first rockets were fired into Israel in October, 2001. Back to top

Update 04/30/2020: We discovered that we had misinterpreted some B'Tselem statistics and have corrected the number of Palestinians killed to "over" 4,000. Please note, this figure does not include Palestinian deaths from Israeli shoulder-fired or surface-to-surface missiles. Had we included those deaths, the number would be several hundred more. Back to top

Last updated: 11/02/2022

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Israel-Palestine Timeline

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

History of the Israel Lobby

Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Information largely missing from U.S. news reports. Read the Blog

Related Articles

A Moment that Changed my Life

Shoot to Maim

More Articles on Injuries

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