Hamas has succeeded in rebuilding its military strength to levels before Operation Protective Edge in 2014, including quantities of rockets and the extent of attack tunnels, according to a senior IDF official.
According to Channel Two yesterday the IDF official said that Hamas’ missile arsenal has been fully replenished, in part thanks to material which has reached the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. In addition, although Israel destroyed roughly one third of Hamas’ attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the official said that the underground network has now been fully restored.
The same official assessed that despite the military build-up, Hamas does not seek a confrontation with Israel in the near future.
However, during a tour of the Gaza border area yesterday, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that “Hamas and the rest of the groups in Gaza have not abandoned their desire to destroy Israel and to harm us”. He suggested though, that currently “they know that the balance of power is not in their favour and if they act against us, they will pay a very heavy price”.
Also yesterday, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, threatened that “The Zionist enemy will pay the price” for the recent assassination of a drone expert in Tunisia, which it blames on Israel.
Ubaida also predicted that the much anticipated publication of a State Comptroller report into the Israeli security cabinet’s performance during Operation Protective Edge “proves that Hamas won” the conflict.
It is thought that the report is critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the defence minister at the time, Moshe Ya’alon, particularly for failing to adequately inform the security cabinet over the threat of Hamas tunnels. Sections of transcripts from security cabinet meetings during the conflict were leaked and published in the Israeli media last week.
A Knesset sub-committee approved publishing sections of the report earlier this week. State Comptroller Yosef Shapira is expected to soon make the entire document publicly available.