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A single, improvised “Kassam” rocket explosion can cause a mass casualty incident: a potential threat for future international terrorism?
  1. D Schwartz1,2,
  2. I Ostfeld3,
  3. Y Bar-Dayan1
  1. 1
    Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  2. 2
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
  3. 3
    Israeli Defence Force, Ground Forces Command, Israel
  1. Dr Col Y Bar-Dayan, Department of Disaster and Emergency Medicine, and the Department of Health Systems Management, the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, 16 Dolev Street, Neve Savion, Or-Yehuda, Israel; bardayan{at}


Introduction: Over 2000 improvised rockets (called “Kassam” rockets) have been targeted at the south of Israel from the Gaza strip since 2001. Most of them have injured relatively few people. The first known case of a multicasualty incident (MCI) caused by the landing of a single, improvised rocket is described.

Methods: The event is described according to the disastrous incidents systematic analysis through components, interactions and results methodology (DISAST-CIR).

Results: The rocket hit a military training tent camp in the south of Israel at 01:18 hours. At that time, all soldiers were in bed and were not using any protective gear. A total of 76 soldiers was injured (three severe, eight moderate and 65 mild). The most prevalent types of injuries were upper extremity (33%) and lower extremity (30%) trauma, tinnitus (30%) and acute stress reactions (32%). A total of 67 casualties was evacuated to the nearest level two hospital, Barzilai, in a two-phase distribution characterised by different patterns of injury severity and type. All urgent casualties arrived at hospitals within 1 h 24 minutes, whereas most stress casualties arrived in the later phase. Seven casualties were secondarily transported to level one trauma centres. 42 of the casualties were hospitalised and 17 needed urgent surgery. None has died.

Conclusions: A single low-tech mortar with poor accuracy and small warhead (estimated weight of 10 kg only) can cause a large-scale MCI. As international terrorist organisations can easily gain access to improvised rockets, the latter may become a threat in many countries. Emergency systems should thus be prepared for that adverse possibility.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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