One year after Operation Protective Edge began, Hamas has nearly restored its pre-operation rocket capabilities, Ynet reported.
According to an official with Israel’s Southern Command, the terrorist group which governs the Gaza Strip has almost as many short range rockets and mortar shells as it did before the confrontation began.
During last summer’s 50-day conflict with Hamas, Israel set out to destroy Hamas’s arsenal of rockets, aimed at the Jewish State, as well as its network of terror tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border. According to IDF estimates, the army succeeded in obliterating over two-thirds of Hamas’s rockets and most of the tunnels.
Hamas has spent the year, however, rebuilding its stockpile. “Hamas is getting closer to finishing restoring its stock of mortar shells and short-range rockets,” the official said. “They don’t yet have the amount of medium- and long-range rockets (that can reach Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and further north) [they once] had. Hamas will not give up the ability to fire rockets deep into Israel in the next war, because to them, a routine of sirens and emergency situation in Tel Aviv is an achievement.”
Meanwhile, the group is also digging tunnels, but not necessarily the same ones Israel already destroyed. “Digging such cross-border tunnels could take years,” the official explained. “Hamas is nowhere near the border fence.”
The IDF is busy developing a defense system against such tunnels. In a few weeks, the official said, the second of two new tunnel defense systems will become operational along a section of the Gaza border.
“We’re on the verge of a breakthrough against the tunnels,” he asserted.
Regarding the road Hamas has been paving some 300 meters (about 984 feet) from the Israeli border, the official noted it gave Israel a certain advantage: it allows the IDF to monitor Hamas actions. “Using this road, we can avoid confrontations, clashes and infiltration attempts into Israel,” he explained.
The source suggested Israel’s humanitarian actions regarding Gaza could influence whether there is another confrontation in the near future.
“We can have a more substantial rehabilitative process, which could undermine any claims of a siege and a blockade that in my opinion doesn’t exist, and raise the price of loss for the Gaza people. We recommended allowing more goods and allowing Palestinians to work in Israel after they pass security checks. The longer the economic problems in Gaza continue, the bigger the potential of friction, regardless of deterrence.”
The IDF, said the source, “is in a race against Hamas who will learn the lessons of Protective Edge faster.”