Eyeing a fresh round of violence with Israel, the Hamas terrorist organization is sparing no effort to enhance its arsenal and train its operatives, especially from the Gaza-ruling group’s elite “Nukhbah” terror unit, a senior officer with the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command told reporters Thursday.
In a briefing with military correspondents, the officer said that Hamas’s special forces currently include some 20,000 operatives. Hamas also strives to develop its drone and naval capabilities, including terrorist divers, he said, adding that the terror group was actively pursuing improved rocket-launching capabilities. But Hamas has yet to rehabilitate its pre-2014 firing abilities, which were significantly crippled during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas is currently focusing on developing its short-range projectile fire apparatus, which proved more effective during the summer 2014 war with Israel, as it challenged the Iron Dome missile defense system’s interceptors. The officer said the Islamist group was trying to increase the amount of explosives its arsenal of short-range projectiles can carry, as well as to develop mid-range rockets that could “escape” the Iron Dome. One of the innovations said to be in development are “barrel bombs” capable of packing up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of explosives.
“There is concern of miscalculation on Gaza’s part, meaning Hamas suspects we are planning some sort of operation, therefore they’re on very high alert and they lend great importance to any statement by the IDF. They’re concerned we might strike Gaza to affect the situation in Judea and Samaria,” said the officer, adding, “Hamas saw the [months-long terror wave] in Judea and Samaria as a strategic opportunity it hoped to seize. It is very disappointed by the fact the situation in Judea and Samaria has stabilized.”