On Monday, as part of its growing weapons program, Hamas test-fired numerous missiles into the Mediterranean Sea.
The missile testing is not an unusual occurrence in the Gaza Strip. Since the conclusion of the 50-day war with Israel, Hamas has been test-firing a new generation of home-made rockets to use for its next conflict with Israel.
Hamas leaders have publicly stated that they are continuing to test and upgrade their missile stockpiles. These launches are closely monitored by the IDF and the Israeli defense establishment, sometimes even inadvertently setting off the Code Red alarms in border communities.
“This is a part of their domestic weapons production. We did not doubt, at the end of the [summer] war, that their focus would be on building more weapons,” an IDF officer told the Jerusalem Post last summer. “We monitor every such launch, noting the quality of the rocket and its range.”
Monday’s missile test is seen as a sign by Hamas to expand the range of their rocket firing capabilities. Defense officials said the testing was conducted from among the ruins of the former Gush Katif settlement bloc inside the Strip.
The bloc was evacuated as part of a unilateral move by Israel to ease tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in 2005. Almost 9,000 Israelis were removed from their homes in what was supposed to be a gesture of goodwill that would initiate an era of quiet and peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians in the Strip.
The Gush Katif bloc has since turned into a terrorist haven. The symbolism of the site chosen to test the rockets was not missed by Israel, who is monitoring the situation very carefully.
Hamas has spent the last five months rebuilding terror tunnels that were destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, rearming, and testing their long range missiles, including the M-75 missiles, and attempting to smuggle more supplies to rebuild their salvos and build up enough armaments to attack Israel once again.
For its part, Israel has been earnestly working to prevent outside arms suppliers from distributing their equipment to Hamas, both in Israel and abroad. Such backers include Qatar, Turkey and Iran.
Hamas has not limited their missile launching to testing either. In the five month span since Operation Protective Edge came to a close, Hamas has broken the ceasefire with Israel three times. In each case Hamas denied responsibility for the attacks, claiming that they came from local insurgents not connected with the organization.
In response to the most recent rocket attack, which occurred a little over a month ago, the Israeli Air Force responded by bombing concrete factories in Gaza who were supplying materials towards the rebuilding of terror tunnels.